[AWARDS] As expected, Lionel Messi won the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'or as the top player in the world, finishing ahead of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Xavi. The award was the third in a row for Messi, who joins Michel Platini as the only winner of the Ballon d'Or for three years in a row.
Messi received 47.88 percent of the points in votes cast by national team coaches and captains and journalists. Cristiano Ronaldo was second with 21.6 percent, and Xavi received 9.23 percent to finish third for the third straight year.
"It's a huge pleasure for me," Messi said. "It's the third time I get this award, and it's a huge honor."
U.S. Ballon d'Or votes:
Jurgen Klinsmann, National team coach (Messi-C. Ronaldo-Forlan)
Carlos Bocanegra, National team captain (Messi-Xavi-C. Ronaldo)
Paul Kennedy, Soccer America (Messi-C. Ronaldo-Xavi).
Messi on winning the award ...