It’s official… Lionel Messi is the king of the soccer field.
The 24-year-old Argentinean soccer star, who plays for Futbol Club Barcelona has received the FIFA’s Ballon d’Or, making him the 2011 best player in the world. Messi beat out his Barça teammate Xavi Hernandez and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo for the honor.
Widely regarded as the world’s best forward, Messi is the first player to win the honor three years in a row. The only other three-time winners are Ronaldo (1996-97, 2002) and Zinedine Zidane (1998, 2000, 2003). The FIFA award was renamed last year when it merged with France Football’s Golden Ball.
“It’s a huge honor,” Messi said after accepting the trophy from the retired Brazilian great, Ronaldo.
Last year, Messi scored 55 goals for Barcelona, which won its third Champions League title in six seasons, and he scored four goals for Argentina‘s national team.
Messi received 48 percent of the points in votes cast by national team coaches and captains plus selected reporters. Cristiano Ronaldo finished second with 22 percent and Xavi had 9 percent to finish third.
“This one is very special because I want to share this with my friend and teammate Xavi. He deserves it,” Messi said.
Meanwhile, Xavi described his teammate as “one of the best footballers in the history of the sport.”
“He’s still young. I think he’s probably going to break all the records that exist in the sport,” Xavi said.