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Millennium Post

Matchless Messi

BALLON D'OR

L Lionel Messi won the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year award for a record fourth-successive time after a record-breaking haul of 91 goals over 12 months. Messi smashed Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year to beat his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta to the accolade. ‘To tell the truth this is really unbelievable to get this award, to get a fourth award, and the fourth-consecutive award,’ the 25-year-old winger said Monday in his acceptance speech.

‘I would like to recognise my colleagues from Barcelona. Andres, it’s a proud moment to be by your side this year. I would like to thank my family, my friends, my wife and my son.’ The only players to have won the award three times in a row are the Argentinean star himself and UEFA president Michel Platini. Dutch legends Marco van Basten and Johan Cruyff have won the gong three times but not in succession. Ronaldo, the 2008 Ballon d’Or winner who was nominated for hitting 46 goals to propel Real Madrid to the Spanish title, finishes behind Messi for the second-straight year. Iniesta was shortlisted after his spectacular form helped Spain retain their European Championship title in the summer, and he was named player of the tournament. Iniesta was runner-up to Messi in 2010.Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque won the coach of the year award.


SPAIN HAILS LIONEL 'THE GREATEST'


Spain bathed in glory on Tuesday after Barcelona star Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or for best footballer of the year for a record fourth time. Spain coach Vicente del Bosque also snatched top honours, in recognition of their Euro 2012 triumph, which followed its 2010 World Cup win and Euro 2008 crown, to top a virtual clean sweep for Spanish and La Liga players.Sports daily AS lavished praise on Messi, saying, ‘Since we have known him, every year he plays better, every year he scores more goals.’ ‘Golden Messi,’ headlined Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo, adding: ‘Leo Messi is the greatest. Huge. Unique.’ On his return to Barcelona airport, Messi told reporters that he had forgotten many people in his speech but had wanted to mention Barca coach Tito Vilanova, who is being treated for a cancer of the salivary gland, and defender Eric Abidal. The French defender is training with the squad again after a liver transplant



HE WILL BE BACK FOR MORE: INIESTA


Spain’s Andres Iniesta shrugged off the disappointment of failing to dislodge favourite Lionel Messi as the Argentinian won a record fourth Ballon d’Or at a FIFA gala on Monday by predicting his Barcelona teammate would be back for more next year. Messi easily saw off Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Iniesta for the prize - and Iniesta said he would surely win again. ‘Leo, if he continues in this vein, won’t let a fifth straight Ballon d’Or title slip. I congratulate him on a fourth which makes him unique. It’s not a question of sharing it out with others just because somebody has won a lot, you have to savour a job well done and that’s what we are doing today (Monday),’ said Iniesta after the award ceremony in Zurich. Iniesta, 28, joined Messi in saying such awards are essentially a reflection of the team in which the winner plays and ‘the fact that we (Barcelona) have so many representatives in the team (of the year) means we have fulfilled our mission.’ Barcelona had five players in the team of 2012, as did Real Madrid, with Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao making up the numbers. 
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