Barcelona star, Lionel Messi capped a stunning year with a fifth World Player of the Year award, beating off competition from team-mate Neymar and Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi won the 2015 Fifa Ballon d’Or ahead of Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona team-mate Neymar, claiming the prestigious award at Monday’s ceremony in Zurich.
Messi received 41.33 per cent of the votes, with Ronaldo (27.76%) in second place and Neymar (7.86%) third.
It is the Argentina international’s fifth World Player of the Year title – more than any other player in history – and thwarts Ronaldo’s quest to tie his previous Ballon D’Or awards, with the Madrid star having picked up the award in each of the last two seasons.
“It’s a very special moment for me, to be back here on this stage winning another Ballon d’Or after being in the audience watching Cristiano win for two years,” Messi said upon receiving his award.
“It’s incredible that it’s my fifth, it’s much more than anything I dreamed of as a kid.
“I want to thank all those who voted for me first of all. I also want to thank obviously my team-mates, as I always say without them none of this would ever have been possible.
“And lastly I want to thank football for everything it has brought me – both the bad and the good – because it has made me grow and learn always.”
The Ballon d’Or award caps yet another remarkable year for Messi, who secured five trophies and a famous treble with Barcelona in a dominant 2015, ending the Catalan club’s four-year wait for another Champions League victory – his fourth title in Europe’s premier club competition.
Messi scored a remarkable 52 goals for club and country across the calendar year – five less than Ronaldo – as well as contributing 26 assists in 61 appearances, scoring or assisting every 0.78 games.
The 27-year-old first won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, before it merged with Fifa’s World Player of the Year award, and won it every year afterwards until 2012 when his stranglehold on the award was finally broken by Ronaldo.
The women’s prize was won by American Carli Lloyd, the first female to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
The 33-year-old broke down in tears on the podium after beating Japan’s Aya Miyama of Okayama Yunogo Belle, and Celia Sasic of Germany’s European champion club Frankfurt.
“This has been a dream of mine ever since I started my journey with the national team,” she said after regaining her composure, thanking her teammates and national coach Jill Ellis.
Barcelona’s Luis Enrique won the men’s coach of the year award, having guided his team to the treble in his first season in charge and then added the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup to his trophy list in the second half of 2015.
Enrique headed off Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola, who spent four years at Barca, and Argentinian Jorge Sampaoli, who led Chile to its first Copa America title in 2015.
Ellis won the women’s coach award after taking the U.S. to its third World Cup title in Canada. England coach Mark Sampson and Japan’s Norio Sasaki were also shortlisted.
Messi was beaten to the Puskás Award for the most beautiful goal of the year by Brazilian striker Wendell Lira, who won for his acrobatic overhead kick for club side Atletico Goianesia.
Messi had been nominated for his mesmerizing solo run against Athletic Bilbao, while Alessandro Florenzi’s spectacular long-range effort for AS Roma against Barcelona was also shortlisted.