Lionel Messi is one step closer to making serious soccer history this January…
The 25-year-old Argentine fútbol star has been named as a finalist for the 2012 Ballon d’Or, which honors the world’s best soccer player.
Messi, who claimed his second Golden Boot in October for being the top scorer in the European national leagues, will compete against Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Spain’s Andres Iniesta for the honor, FIFA and France Football announced Thursday.
Messi has won the award for the last three years, while Ronaldo took the prize in 2008. First-time finalist Iniesta was the MVP of the 2012 European Championship. Should Messi earn his fourth consecutive award, he’d become the only player to win the award four times.
Iniesta and Messi are teammates at Futbol Club Barcelona, while Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid.
“We’re not at the level of the Oscars, but we’re not very far from that ceremony either,” Blatter said.
Nominated for Coach of the Year are Vicente Del Bosque of the Spanish national squad, Pep Guardiola – late of Barcelona – and Jose Mourinho, manager of Real Madrid.
Brazil’s Marta and two members of the U.S. team, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, will compete for the title of Women’s Player of the Year. The contenders for Coach of the Year in women’s soccer are Bruno Bini of France, Norio Sasaki of Japan and Sweden’s Pia Sundhage.
The Puskas trophy for goal of the year will go to either Colombian Radamel Falcao Garcia, Brazil’s Neymar or Slovak Miroslav Stoch.
The names of all the winners will be revealed at a January 7 gala in Switzerland.