Barcelona FC forward Lionel Messi has won a fifth Ballon d’Or, breaking his own previous record of four. The 28-year-old Argentine beat his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who won had the 2013 and 2014 awards, and club teammate Neymar for the honor.
"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," Messi said in accepting his award.
"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.
"And 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 learn and grow."
Although Ronaldo had scored goals, Messi’s case was helped by the fact that Barcelona had an impressive haul of five trophies including the Champions League, La Liga and the Club World Cup.
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Voting for the Ballon d’Or is done by national team captains and coaches, along with members of the international media selected by France Football magazine.
The FIFA Women’s Player of the Year was won by US women’s star Carli Lloyd after her dominant display in last year’s World Cup. She beat Japan midfielder Aya Miyama and recently retired Germany striker Celia Sasic. Lloyd joins fellow Americans Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach as winners of the award.
"It’s truly an honor. It has been a dream come true," she said after winning the honor.
Lloyd scored a hat-trick in an impressive 16 minutes against Japan in the 2015 World Cup final, cementing her legendary status and was superb all year long. She scored 18 of her 80 US goals (in 211 caps) last year.
Lloyd’s US national team manager Jill Ellis also received recognition for her work in last year’s World Cup, winning the FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year award. The US women’s win in 2015 was their first in 16 years and it was several key decisions, including pushing Lloyd into an attacking role, that led to the success. Ellis beat out England’s Mark Sampson and Norio Sasaki of Japan for the award.
"Wow, a true honor," Ellis said. "First let me congratulate all the nominees here this evening. It's such a thrill to be part of such an amazing football family. To Mark and Norio, thanks for making it hard and thank you for continuing to elevate the game and leaders in women's football.''
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique won the Men’s Coach of the Year award, winning the award over Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola and Chile’s Jorge Sampaoli.