SPORTS

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Or, gets 3rd straight FIFA world player prize

01/09/2012 02:17 EST | Updated 03/10/2012 05:12 EST
ZURICH - Lionel Messi has won the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for 2011, extending his reign as the world's best soccer player for a third year.

The Barcelona and Argentina forward beat his club teammate Xavi Hernandez and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid to get the game's most prestigious individual honour.

Messi's prolific scoring and unselfish creative play inspired Barcelona to win five trophies last year including the Champions League, Spanish League and Club World Cup.

Aged just 24, Messi is the first man to win three straight FIFA world player awards in the honour's 21-year history.

Earlier, Homare Sawa ended Marta's five-year hold on the women's award after leading Japan to win the 2011 Women's World Cup.

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