Messi wins Ballon d'Or 2009 by record margin

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London, Dec.1 (ANI): Argentina and Barcelona football star Lionel Messi has won the 2009 Ballon d'Or, awarded to the European footballer of the year, after inspiring Barcelona to the treble last season.

The forward was outstanding as the Catalan club won the Champions League, the Spanish title and the Copa del Rey.

Messi beat last year's winner, Cristiano Ronaldo, into second place by a record margin and becomes the sixth Barcelona player to take the award and the first since Brazil's Ronaldinho in 2005.

The Argentina international, 22, was the top scorer in last season's Champions League with nine goals, including his header in the 2-0 victory in the final over Manchester United, for whom Ronaldo was playing his final match before joining Real Madrid.

He also scored six times in the Copa del Rey and found the net on 23 occasions in the Spanish league.

Messi won the Ballon d'Or, which is voted for by journalists across the world and organised by France Football magazine, by a 240-point margin.

The award's 96 voters gave Messi 473 points out of a possible 480, a near unanimous verdict.

"Honestly, I knew that I was among the favourites because Barcelona had a fruitful year in 2009," The Guardian quoted Messi, as telling France Football.

"But I didn't expect to win with such a margin. The Ballon d'Or is very important to me. All the players who won it were great players, and some great players never won it. For me it's a big honour to win. I dedicate it to my family, they were always present when I needed them and sometimes felt even stronger emotions than me," he added.

Barcelona effectively had four players in the top five, with Xavi third and Andrés Iniesta fourth ahead of the former Barça player Samuel Eto'o, who is now with Internazionale.

Messi's contract with Barcelona runs to 2016 and has a buyout clause of €250m (228m pounds ). He has made a good start to this season, already scoring nine goals, and impressed in a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid on Sunday.

The top ten individual standings are as follows:

1 Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), 473 points

2 Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid), 233

3 Xavi (Spain, Barcelona), 170

4 Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), 149

5 Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon, Internazionale), 75

6 Kaká (Brazil, Real Madrid), 58

7 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Barcelona), 50

8 Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United), 35

9 Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea), 33

10 Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool), 32 (ANI)

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