Lionel Messi is your board-certified best soccer player in the world. France Football awarded the 24-year-old Argentine the 2011 Ballon D’Or, the most prestigious of the sport’s “player of the year” awards, for the third-consecutive year. The choice was so suspenseful, runner up Cristiano Ronaldo did not even show. Messi is the fourth player (Cryuff, Platini, van Basten) to win it three times. He’s the second player (Platini) to win the awards consecutively.
The award can be a popularity contest. Messi, firing salvoes for humanism with every feat of skill, would certainly win that. Though, his awards, by any measure, have been well deserved.
Messi has 31 goals and 13 assists in 28 appearances for Barcelona this season. His ongoing run of 133 goals and 47 assists in 150 appearances since the start of the 2008-09 season, as Barcelona have won three league titles and two Champions League titles, will mark him, almost undoubtedly, as soccer’s greatest of all time. Sorry, Pele.