Lionel Messi thrilled to clinch Ballon d'Or for a record fifth time after seeing his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo win it twice before
Zurich: Lionel Messi said it felt "incredible" after he was announced as the winner of the Ballon d'Or for a record fifth time.
Lionel Messi waves to the audience after winning the Ballon d'Or on Monday. Pic/Getty Images
The Barcelona superstar, who had already won the biggest individual accolade in world football more times than anyone else, extended his haul by reclaiming the award at a lavish ceremony in Zurich on Monday night.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo — the winner of the world player of the year gong on three previous occasions, including in each of the last two years — traded places with his great rival to finish as runner-up.
Lionel Messi with his partner Antonella Roccuzzo
Messi's fellow Barca frontman Neymar came third after a calendar year in which the Catalan outfit claimed five titles.
Twenty-eight-year-old Argentina international Messi, who scored 48 goals for his club in 2015, said after being presented the award by 2007 winner Kaka: "It is a very special moment for me to be back here on this stage, winning again another Ballon d'Or after being there in the audience watching Cristiano win.
Just wanna have fun: James Nesbitt, presenter of the show, takes a selfie with Carli Lloyd (left) of the USA, Cristiano Ronaldo and Germany's Celia Sasic during the FIFA Ballon d'Or award ceremony in Zurich on Monday. Pic/Getty Images
"It's incredible this is my fifth. It's much more than anything I've dreamed of as a kid.
"I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I want to thank my teammates — without them none of this would be possible.
Sergio Ramos and Pilar Rubio attend the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2015. Pics/Getty Images
"Lastly, I want to thank football in general for everything it has brought me, both the bad and the good, because it has made me grow and learn."
Italy's Alessandro Florenzi with a guest
Messi — also the Ballon d'Or winner in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 — secured 41.33 per cent of the vote this time, with Portugal hitman Ronaldo getting 27.76 per cent and Brazil's Neymar 7.86 per cent.
US 'keeper Hope Solo arrives in Zurich
Meanwhile, Messi declared he wants to end his career with Barcelona. "A year ago, we were all getting criticised, and we ended up winning nearly everything. My intention is to terminate my career where I started it in Barcelona," he said.
Messi's mind-boggling record
Goals Messi scored in all competitions for Barcelona and Argentina in 2015
Career goals Messi has scored in all official competitions for Barcelona, having played in 503 games
Goals scored by Messi in 2012, breaking the calendar-year record set by German Gerd Muller in 1972
Titles won by Messi with Barcelona — a club record shared with Andres Iniesta
Number of hat-tricks Messi has scored for Barcelona since joining the club as a 16-year-old
> Women's world player of the year: Carli Lloyd
> Puskas award: Wendell Lira
> World coach of the year for men's football: Luis Enrique
> World coach of the year for women's football: Jill Ellis
> World XI: Manuel Neuer; Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Dani Alves; Andres Iniesta, Luka Modric, Paul Pogba; Neymar, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo.
> FIFA fair play award: All football organisations supporting refugees.