Argentine football star Lionel Messi could be ending 2011 with another trophy and beginning the new year with yet another one. World football’s governing body, FIFA, announced this week that the 24-year-old Messi is one of three finalists for its Ballon d’Or trophy, given to the best player of the year.
If the Barcelona magician is presented with the trophy January 9 at a FIFA awards ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, it will mark a record-equaling third consecutive time he’s crowned the world’s best player. Brazil’s Ronaldo and Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, both now retired, won the award three times.
And Messi might be lifting another trophy on December 18 in Yokohama, Japan, the venue for the FIFA Club World Cup final. The competition features the champion clubs from FIFA’s six continental federations, and Barcelona, the 2009 champion, is one of the favorites. Messi’s Barcelona teammate, Andres Iniesta, who scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final, says this Barca squad is stronger than the 2009 edition.
For his part, Lionel Messi says the FIFA Club World Cup is an important tournament for Barcelona. He says the club has some lovely memories from 2009 and he and his teammates can’t wait to celebrate again in the same style.