Lionel Messi wins Ballon d’Or for the fifth time, beats Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar to it

Hot on the heels of the Glo/CAF 2015 award night – of a few days ago – was the 2015 Ballon d’Or at Monday’s (yesterday) gala night in Zurich.


Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi was awarded the 2015 Ballon d’Or at the event making it a record fifth time in his sterling career that he is carting home the prize.


Messi, 28, had finished behind long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo in both 2013 and 2014 but was a clear winner of FIFA’s top individual honour this time around.


After a year in which Barca won five trophies, including the Champions League and La Liga titles, Messi had been an overwhelming favourite to take the prize.


He scored 52 goals and 26 assists in 61 games for club and country in 2015.


On receiving the award, an elated Messi said:-


It is a very special moment for me to be back here on this stage, winning again another Ballon d’Or after being there in the audience watching Cristiano win.


It’s incredible this is my fifth. It’s much more than anything I’ve dreamed of as a kid. I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I want to thank my teammates.


And lastly, I want to thank football in general for everything it has brought me. Both the bad and the good. Because it has made me learn and grow.


Voting for the Ballon d’Or award is by men’s national team captains and head coaches, along with international media representatives selected by France Football magazine.


Messi — also the Ballon d’Or winner in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 — received 41.33 percent of votes (third highest in history), while Ronaldo was easily second with 27.76 percent, and Neymar earned 7.86 percent.


Messi and Neymar helped Barca win La Liga, the Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2015, plus the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.


Ronaldo scored more goals than Messi over the calendar year, netting 54 for Madrid to go with three more for Portugal, but it was not enough for his club to win any silverware.


Neither man voted for the other in their respective top threes — they never have — with Messi choosing Barca teammates Luis Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta, and Ronaldo also selecting a trio of club colleagues in Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.


It was the fifth straight year, and seventh in the last eight, that Ronaldo and Messi have finished 1-2 in voting. Only Andres Iniesta interrupted that streak by finishing second in 2010. Kaka, the last player other than Messi or Ronaldo to win, presented the Barcelona man with the trophy on Monday night.


The award went to a Barcelona player for a record 11th time — five to Messi, two to Johan Cruyff in 1973 and 1974, and one each to Ronaldinho in 2005, Rivaldo in 1999, Hristo Stoichkov in 1994 and Luis Suarez in 1960.


Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar were all named to the FIFPro World XI but Messi’s hopes to win the Puskas Award for the first time were dashed when Brazilian Wendell Lira was honoured for the year’s best goal instead.


Barca coach Luis Enrique won the men’s Coach of the Year award, ahead of Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola and Chile manager Jorge Sampaoli. Neither Enrique nor Guardiola attended the event.


The FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year went to Carli Lloyd of the United States over Japan midfielder Aya Miyama and recently retired Germany striker Celia Sasic, while the women’s Coach of the Year award went to United States coach Jill Ellis.


The ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich was hosted by TV presenter Kate Abdo and Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt.


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