Talismanic Messi is new FIFA World Footballer

He beat off competition from last year’s winner, Cristiano Ronaldo; Ricardo Kaka, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Messi becomes the first Argentine to win the award, which was inaugurated in 1991, and it completes a stunning year for the brilliant winger. He helped Barca to an unprecedented treble of Champions League, La Liga and Spanish Cup last season, scoring the second goal in the 2-0 win over Manchester United in Rome in May.

This season, the Catalan club has added the Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup to its roll of honour, beating Argentine side, Estudiantes, in Abu Dhabi to complete a stellar year. At the start of the month, Messi beat Ronaldo to the European Footballer of the Year award by a massive 473 points to 233 margin and has now succeeded Ronaldo as FIFA award winner too.

However, Messi has played down the attention, saying rather: “No, please, I am not king of the world now, nor the number one, I don’t believe in those things. I am the same person as always and I have the good fortune to play in a great team. It was an historic year for Barca and for me but it’s thanks to the work of everyone.”

At a glittering gala at the Zurich Kongresshaus, England stars, John Terry and Steven Gerrard, were named in the FIFPro World XI, voted for by their fellow professionals. Fellow Premier League stars, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Fernando Torres were also picked, along with Manchester United star, former Ronaldo. Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas was picked in goal and Barca’s quartet of Dani Alves, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi completed the line-up.

Cristiano Ronaldo won the inaugural FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of the year for his stunning 40-yard strike while playing for Manchester United against FC Porto in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in April. Brazilian Marta won the Women’s World Player of the Year for a record fourth consecutive time, beating off competition from England’s striker Kelly Smith.

The 31-year-old Smith, who plays club football in the United States, starred in the England side that reached the final of Euro 2009. She said: “This is a real honour for me. It was tough for me to leave my home country because I’m very proud and passionate to be English.

“I just wanted to be among the best players in the world and that’s certainly the case and I’m now pursuing my dream.”

The prizes were voted for by the captains and head coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams. FIFPro Team of Year: Casillas, Dani Alves, Evra, Terry, Vidic, Xavi, Iniesta, Gerrard, Ronaldo, Messi and Torres.

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