'It's incredible' - Jubilant Leo Messi sees off Ronaldo challenge to claim fifth Ballon d'Or
Published 11/01/2016 | 17:48
Lionel Messi said it felt "incredible" after he was announced as the winner of the Ballon d'Or for a record fifth time.
The Barcelona superstar, who had already won the biggest individual accolade in world football more times than anyone else, extended his haul by reclaiming the award at a lavish ceremony in Zurich on Monday night.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo - the winner of the world player of the year gong on three previous occasions, including in each of the last two years - traded places with his great rival to finish as runner-up.
Messi's fellow Barca frontman Neymar came third after a calendar year in which the Catalan outfit claimed five titles.
Twenty-eight-year-old Argentina international Messi, who scored 48 goals for his club in 2015, said after being presented the award by 2007 winner Kaka: "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 team-mates - without them none of this would be possible.
"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 grow and learn."
Messi - also the Ballon d'Or winner in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 - secured 41.33 per cent of the vote this time, with Portugal hitman Ronaldo getting 27.76 per cent and Brazil's Neymar 7.86 per cent.
Messi and Neymar helped Barca win the Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble 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, but it was not enough for his side to win any silverware.
Neither man voted for the other in their respective top threes, with Messi choosing Barca team-mates Luis Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta, and Ronaldo also selecting a trio of club colleagues in Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.
Monday's ceremony also saw Barca boss Luis Enrique take the men's world coach of the year award as he came ahead of his predecessor, Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola, and Chile's Copa America-winning Jorge Sampaoli.
In the category for world coach of the year for women's football, England boss Mark Sampson came third, with United States counterpart Jill Ellis winning the award.
Sampson, who on Monday extended his contract as England head coach to 2019, guided his side to third place at last summer's World Cup, which was won by Ellis' team.
United States midfielder Carli Lloyd claimed the women's world player of the year gong.
John Terry, Wayne Rooney and Bale were the only British players to have made the 55-man shortlist for the FIFPro world XI, but none of the trio were included in a final line-up that featured four players each from Barcelona and Real Madrid, plus Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Paris St Germain defender Thiago Silva and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba.
Ballon d'Or: Lionel Messi; Women's world player of the year: Carli Lloyd; Puskas award: Wendell Lira; World coach of the year for men's football: Luis Enrique; World coach of the year for women's football: Jill Ellis; World XI: Manuel Neuer; Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Dani Alves; Andres Iniesta, Luka Modric, Paul Pogba; Neymar, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo; FIFA fair play award: All football organisations supporting refugees.
Messi by Numbers
1 - Messi is the only player to have won more than three FIFA Ballon d'Or awards, his latest success following his wins in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
52 - Goals Messi scored in all competitions for Barcelona and Argentina in 2015.
430 - Career goals Messi has scored in all official competitions for Barcelona, having played in 503 games.
0.85 - Goals per game average for Barcelona.
26 - Titles won by Messi with Barcelona, a club record shared with Andres Iniesta.
295 - Primera Division goals scored by Messi, 44 more than second-best Telmo Zarra.
28 - Hat-tricks for Barcelona.
49 - Career goals for Argentina, in 105 matches.
16 - Age at which Messi made his Barcelona first-team debut.
91 - Goals scored by Messi in 2012, breaking the calendar-year record set by German Gerd Muller in 1972.
58,000,000 - Twitter mentions for Messi in 2015.