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Messi wins in a landslide
December 1st, 2009 7AM

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[GOLDEN BALL] Argentine Lionel Messi won the Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) as the 2009 Player of the Year in a landslide. The Barcelona star beat out 2008 winner Cristiano Ronaldo by 240 points in a vote of sports journalists from around the world -- the largest margin in the 54-year history of the award.

Messi received 473 votes out of a possible 480 in voting of journalists representing 96 countries. He helped Barca win the 2009 triple -- La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League.

"Honestly, I knew that I was among the favorites because Barcelona had a fruitful year in 2009," Messi told France Football, whose editors visited his house on the outskirts of Barcelona to break the news Monday night. "But I didn't expect to win with such a margin. The Ballon d'Or is very important to me. All the players who won it were great players, and some great players never won it." Alfredo Di Stefano and Omar Sivori, two other Argentine-born players, won the Golden Ball but as Spanish and Italian nationals, respectively. (Until 1995, the award was restricted to Europeans, hence its name the European Player of the Year award).

Soccer America Editor in Chief Paul Kennedy's ballot:
1. Lionel Messi, 2. Kaka, 3. Cristiano Ronaldo, 4. Wayne Rooney, 5. Xavi

Soccer America readers poll:
1. Lionel Messi, 2. Andres Iniesta, Xavi, 4. Cristiano Ronaldo, 5. Kaka, Didier Drogba (complete results)

2009 Ballon d'Or Voting:
1. Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona) : 473 points
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Manchester United then Real Madrid) : 233 pts
3. Xavi (Spain, Barcelona) : 170 pts
4. Andres Iniesta (Espagnol, Barcelona): 149 pts
5. Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon, Barcelona then Inter Milan): 75 pts
6. Kaka (Brazil, AC Milan then Real Madrid): 58 pts
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Inter Milan then Barcelona): 50 pts
8. Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United): 35 pts
9. Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea): 33 pts
10. Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool): 32 pts
11. Fernando Torres (Spain, Liverpool): 22 pts
12. Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Arsenal): 13 pts
13. Edin Dzeko (Bosnia, Wolfsburg): 12 pts
14. Ryan Giggs (Wales, Manchester United): 11 pts
15. Thierry Henry (France, Barcelona): 9 pts
16. Luis Fabiano (Brazil, Sevilla), Nemanja Vidic (Serbia, Manchester United), Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid): 8 pts
19. Diego Forlan (Uruguay, Atletico Madrid): 7 pts
20. Yoann Gourcuff (France, Bordeaux): 6 pts
21. Andrei Arshavin (Russia, Arsenal), Julio Cesar (Brazil, Inter Milan), Frank Lampard (England, Chelsea): 5 pts
24. Maicon (Brazil, Inter Milan): 4 pts
25. Diego (Brazil, Werder Bremen then Juventus): 3 pts
26. David Villa (Spain, Valence), John Terry (England, Chelsea): 2 pts
28. Franck Ribery (France, Bayern Munich), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast, Barcelona): 1 pt
30. Karim Benzema (France, Lyon then Real Madrid): 0 pt

Golden Ball Winners:
1956 -- Stanley Matthews, Blackpool
1957 -- Alfredo Di Stefano, Real Madrid
1958 -- Raymond Kopa, Real Madrid
1959 -- Alfredo Di Stefano, Real Madrid
1960 -- Luis Suarez, Barcelona
1961 -- Omar Sivori, Juventus
1962 -- Josef Masopust, Dukla Prague
1963 -- Lev Yashin, Dynamo Moscow
1964 -- Denis Law, Manchester United
1965 -- Eusebio, Benfica
1966 -- Bobby Charlton, Manchester United
1967 -- Florian Albert, Ferencvaros
1968 -- George Best, Manchester United
1969 -- Gianni Rivera, AC Milan
1970 -- Gerd Mueller, Bayern Munich
1971 -- Johan Cruyff, Ajax
1972 -- Franz Beckenbauer, Bayern Munich
1973 -- Johan Cruyff, Barcelona
1974 -- Johan Cruyff, Barcelona
1975 -- Oleg Blokhin, Dynamo Kiev
1976 -- Franz Beckenbauer, Bayern Munich
1977 -- Allan Simonsen, Borussia Moenchengladbach
1978 -- Kevin Keegan, Hamburg
1979 -- Kevin Keegan, Hamburg
1980 -- Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern Munich
1981 -- Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern Munich
1982 -- Paolo Rossi, Juventus
1983 -- Michel Platini, Juventus
1984 -- Michel Platini, Juventus
1985 -- Michel Platini, Juventus
1986 -- Igor Belanov, Dynamo Kiev
1987 -- Ruud Gullit, AC Milan
1988 -- Marco Van Basten, AC Milan
1989 -- Marco Van Basten, AC Milan
1990 -- Lothar Matthaeus, Inter Milan
1991 -- Jean-Pierre Papin, Marseille
1992 -- Marco Van Basten, AC Milan
1993 -- Roberto Baggio, Juventus of Turin
1994 -- Hristo Stoitchkov, Barcelona
1995 -- George Weah, AC Milan
1996 -- Matthias Sammer, Borussia Dortmund
1997 -- Ronaldo, Inter Milan
1998 -- Zinedine Zidane, Juventus
1999 -- Rivaldo, Barcelona
2000 -- Luis Figo, Real Madrid
2001 -- Michael Owen, Liverpool
2002 -- Ronaldo, Real Madrid
2003 -- Pavel Nedved, Juventus
2004 -- Andriy Shevchenko, AC Milan
2005 -- Ronaldinho, Barcelona
2006 -- Fabio Cannavaro, Real Madrid
2007 -- Kaka, AC Milan
2008 -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United
2009 -- Lionel Messi, Barcelona



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