Lionel Messi’s mesmerizing performances for Barcelona outweighed
a disappointing World Cup, ensuring the Argentina forward was named
the world’s best player of 2010.
Messi won the FIFA award for a second straight year on Monday,
finishing ahead of Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi
”It’s a very special day for me,” Messi said through a
translator on receiving the award at a gala ceremony in FIFA’s home
The 23-year-old Messi amassed 58 goals last year for an exciting
Barcelona team which retained the Spanish league title and leads
the standings this season. However, he failed to score in South
Africa as Argentina exited in the quarterfinals. Iniesta and Xavi,
by comparison, starred for eventual winner Spain.
”I didn’t expect to win it today,” Messi said. ”Already it’s
a source of happiness to be here with my friends and even more to
Messi obtained 22.65 percent of the votes cast by coaches and
captains of national teams plus invited journalists. The original
shortlist featured 23 players. Andres Iniesta finished second with
17.36 percent and Xavi received 16.48 percent to finish third for
the second straight year.
All three candidates honed their craft at Barcelona’s celebrated
La Masia youth academy.
Barcelona has now provided eight winners in the 20-year history
of the FIFA honor. Messi follows former Brazil internationals
Romario (1994), Ronaldo (1996 and ’97), Rivaldo (1999) and
Ronaldinho (2004 and ’05).
The award was renamed this year after FIFA merged its world
player award with the Ballon d’Or trophy, which had been presented
to the best player in Europe by France Football magazine since
Jose Mourinho won the men’s coach award for leading Inter Milan
to a treble including the Champions League.
Mourinho beat World Cup-winning Spain coach Vicente del Bosque
and Pep Guardiola of Barcelona to the inaugural honor. The
Portuguese coach guided Inter to the Italian league and cup double
before leaving to join Real Madrid.
”The most important things for me are the collective titles,
not the individual ones,” Mourinho said.
Brazil forward Marta won the women’s player award for a fifth
straight year, defeating three-time German winner Birgit Prinz and
Kosovo-born newcomer Lira Bajramaj.
Marta was rewarded for her outstanding season with United States
women’s professional league champion Gold Pride. She is a free
agent after the Santa Clara, California, club folded in
”I’m looking at contracts for the league. For the time being I
have nothing confirmed,” she said through a translator.
Silvia Neid won the inaugural women’s coaching award for her
work with the Germany national team, which defends its World Cup
title at home in July. Also shortlisted were Maren Meinert, whose
Germany Under-20 team was world champion in July, and Pia Sundhage,
the Swedish coach of the United States’ Olympic champions.
Haitian football received the FIFA fair play award for its
recovery from an earthquake which devastated the Caribbean island
The FIFA presidential award was given to Archbishop Desmond Tutu
in recognition of South Africa’s organization of the World Cup.
Tutu praised FIFA President Sepp Blatter for his passion and
determination to ensure Africa would host the tournament.
”I want to pay a very warm tribute,” the former Nobel Peace
Prize winner said. ”It is one in the eye for the Afro
All three Ballon d’Or nominees featured in a World XI lineup
chosen by FIFA and the FIFPro group of players’ unions worldwide.
The team consisted entirely of players from Barcelona, Real Madrid
and European champion Inter.
Spain captain Iker Casillas from Madrid was chosen as
goalkeeper. In defense, Barcelona pair Carles Puyol and Gerard
Pique were joined by Inter’s Maicon and Lucio.
Wesley Sneijder of Inter completed a midfield trio comprising
Iniesta and Xavi. The attack teamed Messi and David Villa, who
joined Barca from Valencia in May, with Madrid’s Cristiano
Hamit Altintop won the Puskas Award for most beautiful goal in
2010 for his volley for Turkey against Kazakhstan in a 2012
European Championship qualifying match. The Bayern Munich
midfielder connected with a right-footed shot from 18 meters
(yards) after a left-flank corner had looped directly into his path
for the ball to fly into the back of the net.
Altintop was chosen from a shortlist of 10 goals in a global
online poll of more than one million fans. The award is named after
the late Hungary and Real Madrid great Ferenc Puskas.
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