ZURICH, JANUARY 7, 2012. SOURCE: AFPTV
- Lionel Messi posing for photo on the red carpet
- Cutaway of journalitsts
BARCELONA, JAN 7, 2013, SOURCE: AFPTV
- Lionel Messi arrival at Barcelona airport
SOUNDBITE 1 Lionel Messi, Ballon d'Or winner (Spanish, 19 sec):
"Well it's a major award for what it means, I give more importance to collective than individual awards, but today was a good night because there were five of us in the best team and that it is important, for the team and the club."
[Spanish: "Bueno es un premio importante por lo que significa, le doy mas importancia a los premios colectivos que individuales, pero hoy fue una linda noche porque había 5 de los nuestros en el once y eso si que es importante, para el vestuario y para el club."]
SOUNDBITE 2 Lionel Messi, Ballon d'Or winner (Spanish, 25 sec):
"As I said every year we start trying to get as many titles as possible. Last year we got the King´s Cup and we'll see if this year will be much better. // It's a privilege to be between the best three and even more so when it's with friends, last year was with Xavi and this one with Iniesta."
[Spanish: "Como digo cada año que empieza intentar conseguir el mayor numero de títulos posibles. El año pasado conseguimos la copa del rey y veremos si este año sea mucho mejor.// Es un privilegio estar entre los tres y mas cuando es con amigos, al año pasado fue con Xavi y este con Iniesta."]
- Lionel Messi departing
ZURICH, JANUARY 7, 2012. SOURCE: AFPTV
- Overlay of Lionel Messi on the red carpet
Football: Messi wins record fourth Ballon d'Or
by Diego Reinares
ZURICH, Jan 7, 2013 (AFP) - Lionel Messi added yet another record to his stellar list of achievements over the past 12 months on Monday when he won an unprecedented fourth, consecutive, Ballon d'Or at a FIFA gala in Zurich.
The accolade seals Messi's status as the greatest player of his generation after he saw off Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta for the prize.
Messi received a vote share of 41.60 percent to 23.68 for Ronaldo and 10.91 for Iniesta.
Messi and former French star, UEFA president Michel Platini, had prior to Monday been the only players to win three straight Ballon d'Or awards while Dutch greats Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten both won the accolade on three occasions.
Spain's Vicente del Bosque was named coach of the year for 2012, seeing off competition from Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho and former Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola.
Messi's success crowned another landmark year for the Argentine who is already the top scorer in La Liga for the ongoing season with 25 goals, having also broken Gerd Mueller's 40-year record for the most goals in a calendar year.
He finished 2012 with an astonishing 91 goals in all competitions.
But Messi has insisted his scoring records will mean nothing if Barcelona do not go on to take the La Liga title off Real or fail to win the Champions League.
"It is incredible to receive this prize once again and it's impressive it makes it four in a row. Each one is special. You never come here thinking you are going to win.
"I would like to share this with my Barca teammates - particularly with Andres, who is here with me," said the ever unassuming Messi.
"I am proud to be able to train alongside him every day. I am also thinking of my teammates in the Argentina squad," he went on.
"Thank you to all those who voted for me, skippers, coaches and national coaches.
"Thank you too to my family, my friends and of course my wife and son, who is the best thing that ever happened to me," said the 25-year-old from Rosario, who in November became a father to son Thiago.
Barca coach Tito Vilanova had already eulogised his player in advance of Messi's win.
"Leo's great quality is that he plays as if he is still a child," Vilanova opined.
Portugal captain Ronaldo at least has the consolation of having won in 2008 before Messi's hegemony began while Iniesta can for his part bask in the knowledge that he has won a World Cup and two Euros - including Euro 2012 - whereas Messi still has to replicate such achievements at international level.
Until he can lift top honours with Argentina, some observers will insist he cannot be classed as the greatest player ever, moving ahead of Pele and Diego Maradona.
The award of best coach went to Spain's Vicente del Bosque, who beat off competition from Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho, the 2010 winner, and former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.
"It is an honour for me to receive this award," said Del Bosque, who led Spain to Euro 2012 - having also landed the World Cup two years earlier.
"It is an honour to represent Spanish football and the Spanish national side. I thank all the players - they make us (the coaches) better.
"This prize can be extended to all coaches, to people who dedicate themselves to football," added the ever humble coach..
Barcelona and Real Madrid meanwhile contributed five players each to the best XI of the year - Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid being the exception in an all Spain-based line-up.
Slovakia's Miroslav Stoch edged both Falcao and Brazil's Neymar for best goal,
Best woman player went to Abby Wambach of the USA, who edged Brazil's Marta and fellow American Alex Morgan while the USA's Swedish coach Pia Sundhage won the title of best women's coach.
The Uzbekistan Football Federation took the fair play award while a special FIFA president award went to German legend Franz Beckenbauer.
Football: Great prize night for Spanish stars
MADRID, Jan 7, 2013 (AFP) - Sports figures and media hailed a great night for Spanish football on Monday after Liga star Lionel Messi won a fourth Ballon d'Or and national coach Vicente Del Bosque was crowned coach of the year.
Messi is from Argentina, but his prize was in large part a reward for his prolific goal-scoring for Spanish league-leaders Barcelona.
Del Bosque's honour meanwhile recognised Spain's Euro 2012 triumph, which followed its 2010 World Cup win and the 2008 Euro crown.
Despite being fiercely pro-Real Madrid, leading sports journal Marca ran a headline reading "The best in history" on its website, above photographs of Messi at each of his four Ballon d'Or prizegivings.
It hailed Del Bosque's award as "A prize for Spanish football."
All three players on the shortlist for the world's best footballer award play in the Spanish league -- Messi, his Barca teammate Andres Iniesta and rival striker Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.
In fact all of the top six names in the final ranking that Messi topped were from La Liga teams.
In the FIFPro selection for the best 11-man line-up, meanwhile, six were Spaniards and all but two were from the Spanish league.
That selection included Ronaldo and three other Real players -- Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso -- plus Iniesta, Messi and two other Barcelona players, Gerard Pique and Xavi Hernandez.
The president of Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, said he was "very proud of our players and to be with Barcelona", the club said on its Twitter feed.
The president of the Spanish Royal Football Federation, Angel Villar, said Del Bosque's award was "a new prize for Spanish football that is going through some marvellous years."
Outside of the footballing sphere, Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal in Twitter messages congratulated Messi and Del Bosque.
"Congrats to Leo Messi for his new golden ball," he wrote. "It was difficult with two cracks like Iniesta and Cristiano."
"How proud I feel of Del Bosque, making history with this great squad," he added.