Lionel Messi became the first Argentine Player to win the prestigious FIFA World Player of the Year award since its inauguration in 1991. It was no surprise that the Argentine wonder kid beat his nearest competitor Cristiano Ronaldo by more than 700 points. 2009 has been phenomenal for Messi and this latest award is the icing on his spectacular cake.
At only 22, the Barcelona forward is set to cement his name in the annals of football history as one of the youngest players to win this award. After securing the title as Europe’s finest, Messi became the ultimate favourite to win the World Player of the award. Last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo had to settle for second best this time round and keep his eyes set on 2010.
Messi was not the only one to make history at the Zurich Kongresshaus. Brazil’s sensational female national team player Marta became the first woman to win the women’s award for a record 4th consecutive year. Marta held off strong competition from fellow nominee Kelly Smith of England to emerge as the winner. At 23, she definitely has cemented her status as one of the greats.
Both these players are still young and I am sure that they are going to dominate the world stage for a very long time. Messi now goes into 2010 and the world cup officially as the World’s finest player and he will have an enormous burden of expectation from his countrymen, fans and analysts.
Ronaldinho was in a similar position 4 years ago in 2005 when he was named the player of the year. He went on to have one of his worst tournament’s at the 2006 summer World Cup in Germany. His country Brazil was eliminated in the quarter finals and ever since then he has not been the same player we all came to love.
I hope Messi does not suffer the same fate. He should build on his successes this year and perhaps even aim at getting the golden boot award in South Africa.