Lionel Messi was tonight rewarded for a stunning year in which he helped Barcelona to an unprecedented six trophies by being named FIFA’s world player of the year.
The Argentina forward, who headed the clinching goal against Manchester United in the Champions League final, also scored on Saturday to secure the Club World Cup for Barcelona against Estudiantes on Saturday.
The 22-year-old won the award for the first time, beating last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo, his two clubmates Andres Iniesta and Xavi and Brazil midfielder Kaka. He was presented with the trophy at a glittering awards gala in Zurich.
Messi said: “I’m extremely happy. We’ve just ended a historic year, a perfect year in which we’ve won every competition we’ve played in. We just needed to take this last step and everything has worked out how we wanted. It’s amazing.”
The award is voted for by the coaches and captains of each national side.
Meanwhile, Messi’s team-mates Daniel Alves, Xavi and Iniesta were among those named in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI.
The XI, voted for by members of the international professional footballers’ union FIFPro, were: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), John Terry (Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd), Patrice Evra (Man Utd), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Xavi (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Fernando Torres (Liverpool).
Ronaldo won the FIFA Puskas award for the best goal of the 2008/09 season – his long-range thunderbolt for Manchester United against Porto in the Champions League in April.
Brazilian player Marta won the FIFA women’s player of the year award for the fourth year in a row.