Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi captured the inaugural Fifa Ballon d’Or award. This is the first time this award has been presented as the Ballon d’Or (former European Footballer of the Year award) and the FIFA World Player of the Year award have been merged.
Messi beat out fellow Barcelona teammates Xavi and Andres Iniesta both of whom had strong years for club and country. I was rooting for Xavi as I think this may have been his last chance at the award considering he is now 30. I felt more than just for sentimental reasons that he would have been an excellent choice. He is the heartbeat and maestro for two of the most dominant teams from this past calendar year – Barcelona and Spain. I think Andres Iniesta is a very good player but I was disappointed to not see Wesley Sneijder in the final three after winning the treble with Inter Milan and leading Netherlands to the World Cup finals.
That being said, it is hard to argue against Messi, who scored a remarkable 60 goals for club and country in the 2010 calendar year and is widely regarded as one of the most gifted footballers ever. Messi joins some elite company in winning back to back player of the year awards.
Johan Cruyff, in 1973 and 74, was the first to do it. Cruuyff, who was often called ‘Pythagoras in boots’ for the beauty and precision of his angled passes, is still the standard by which many judge what a ‘complete’ footballer should be. Not only did he have great vision and passing but his overall technical ability, speed, acceleration and dribbling set him apart. You can watch the Dutch master at work in this YouTube video.
Liverpool legend Kevin Keegan landed the Ballon d’Or in 1978 and 1979. Bayern Munich legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had his best years in 1980 and 1981 including back-to-back Ballon d’Or awards and winning the 1980 European Championships with West Germany.
However, UEFA president Michel Platini did one better than all the rest by winning three consecutive awards between 1983 and 1985. Why did he win three in a row ? For starters, he finished top scorer in Serie A for three consecutive seasons (1982–83, 1983–84, and 1984–85). He won the scudetto (Italian championship) with Juventus in 1984, the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1984, the 1984 UEFA Super Cup, the European Cup in 1985 and the 1985 Intercontinental Cup. He also won Euro 1984 with France for good measure. The only thing that eluded Platini during his career was a World Cup win. He came close with France in 1986 when they finished 3rd. Watch Platini in action.