Messi Wins Third-Straight Ballon d’Or

At 24, Lionel Messi has already racked up enough honors to make him arguably the best player of his time. On Monday, Messi strengthened his claim to the title by winning a third-consecutive Ballon d’Or—international football’s biggest individual award.

The Argentina forward bested Barcelona teammate Xavi Hernandez and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or, making him only the second player to win the honor for three-consecutive years. French legend Michel Platini won the Ballon d’Or from 1983 to 85. Messi received his award from retired Brazilian star Ronaldo, who won the award three times in 1996-97 and 2003.

Messi offered his 2011 victory to teammate Xavi, who ended up third in the voting with 9.23 percent. “This one is very special because I want to share this with my friend and teammate Xavi. He deserves it,” Messi said. It was a double victory for Barcelona on Monday as the Catalan club’s manager, Pep Guardiola, was named coach of the year.