It was a forgone conclusion that Lio Messi was going to win the Balon D'Or this year.Â He left few doubters after his performance in Rome against Manchester United.Â
Messi, 22, becomes the first Argentine player to ever with the award given out by France Football Magazine since they changed the award format to include players from other continents that play in European clubs back in 1995.Â Alfredo Di Stefano ('57, '59) and Omar SÃvori ('61) also won the award, but they did so as Spanish and Italian citizens respectively.Â
What made this even more special was the fact that this year's edition of the award was indeed historic because of the margin of victory obtained by the Argentine international.Â Â Messi amassed the most votes in the history of the award with 473 out of a possible 480.Â He also had the largest margin of victory as former Manchester United and current Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo earnedÂ 233 while Messi's teammate, Xavi HernÃ¡ndez, rounded out the podium with 170 ballots.Â He also becomes the third youngest player to ever win this award behind Ronaldo (21) back in 1997 and was edged out by six months by Michael Owen when the English international won it back in 2001. Â
There was no doubt that Messi had a season to remember.Â He was Barcelona's second leading scorer with 23 goals, seven behind Samuel Eto'o who came in fifth in the voting.Â He was Barcelona's big playmaker helping the Blaugrana become the first Spanish team to ever win the treble. Â He now joins Luis SuÃ¡rez (1960), Johan Cruyff (1974), Hristo Stoichkov (1994), Rivaldo (1999), and Ronaldinho (2005) as Barca players to have won this distinction.Â Ronaldo (1997) and Luis Figo (2000) also won the award having played for Barca in the those respective calendar years. Â Â
Six of the top seven in the European Footballer of the Year voting played for Barcelona in 2009.Â AndrÃ©s Iniesta (4th), was followed by Eto'o, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (7th).Â Thierry Henry ended up in the top 20 in 15th place.Â Meanwhile 2007 winner KakÃ¡ finished in sixth place.
The Balon D'Or was voted by press and media, while the FIFA World Player of the Year, award which has Messi sitting in pole postion, will be voted on by coaches and captains of national teams affiliated with FIFA.Â That award will be presented in Zurich sometime in mid-December. Messi will most likely not be present as he will be in Dubai participating in the Club World Cup with Barcelona.Â
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