Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or award for an unprecedented fifth time.
The Barcelona forward reclaimed the biggest individual accolade in world football at a lavish ceremony in Zurich on Monday, beating Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, the three-time winner he has been runner-up behind for the last two years.
He also finished ahead of fellow Barca frontman Neymar after a calendar year in which the Catalan outfit claimed five titles.
Argentina international Messi, who scored 48 goals for his club in 2015, said after being presented the award by 2007 Ballon d’Or 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.
“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 team-mates - without them none of this would be possible.
“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.”
WINNERS AT THE 2016 BALLON D’OR GALA
Ballon d’Or: Lionel Messi
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.