Lionel Messi has admitted that winning the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or trophy did not come as a surprise to him, but says that he is still humbled by the worldwide recognition.
The 24-year-old Argentine international scooped the award for a third consecutive year, but despite the South American's consistency at the top of the game, he has his heart set on continued success for club and country.
"Obviously, it was not as much of a surprise like last year that I won," confirmed Messi in an interview with France Football. "I knew that I had a good chance to win the award and was very relaxed.
"I am very pleased and proud of my victory, just like the first two times I won.
"This is now the third time that I've won, and I still get emotional. The Ballon d'Or is a very prestigious trophy that all players want to win.
"I was a bit surprised with the big gap between me and the number two. Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi would have been worthy winners as well."
However, Messi conceded that he wouldn't mind missing out on the trophy for the next two years, in favour of a shot at glory with the Argentina national team in 2014.
"Winning the Ballon d'Or again in 2014 would be the ultimate reward, because that would mean that Argentina are world champions," he added. "I would happily miss out on the award in the next two years."
Messi also took the opportunity to refute recent reports in the press that his relationship with Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola was coming under increasing scrutiny due to a shift in power.
"This is absolute nonsense and a complete lack of respect towards Guardiola," he concluded. "He has won everything and is fundamental to Barcelona's success.
"I am just a player like everybody else. Guardiola is the one who makes the decisions. I don't have any influence."
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