Lionel Messi has beaten the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi and Iniesta to be named as the European Footballer of the Year, winning the Ballon d’Or award.
French magazine France Football, which organizes the award, said that the Barcelona player had won by a record margin, scoring 473 points to Ronaldo’s 233.
His achievement comes on the back of a marvelous season for Barcelona who in 2008 / 2009 won the treble of Champions League, La Liga and the Spanish Cup.
Xavi was third, Iniesta 4th with Wayne Rooney the best placed English player in 8th. Steven Gerrard was 10th.
The magazine quoted Messi as saying:
Honestly, I knew that I was among the favourites because Barcelona had a fruitful year in 2009.
But I didn’t expect to win with such a margin. The Golden Ball is very important to me. All the players who won it were great players, and some great players never won it.
I dedicate it to my family. They were always present when I needed them and sometimes felt even stronger emotions than me.
Messi becomes the sixth Barcelona player to take the award but the first since Brazilian playmaker Ronaldinho in 2005.