Lionel Messi has been awarded the FIFA Ballon d'Or for the third successive year.
Barcelona's 24-year-old Argentina striker beat team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to the title of the world's best player. Messi, man of the match in the Champions League final in 2011, also won the Primera Division, Spanish Supercopa, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup last year.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Xavi both paid tribute to Messi. Ferguson said Messi could now be judged alongside the greats of world football through the ages, even though he is still only 24.
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