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Lionel Messi named world soccer player of the year

Argentinean striker Lionel Messi won the Fifa Ballon d’Or award on Monday, beating Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi. In the women’s award, the two German nominees lost out to Brazilian Marta.

Lionel Messi and Marta with their trophies

Messi and Marta celebrate as they both win again in Zurich

At the annual Fifa awards ceremony in Zurich, Argentinean Lionel Messi was awarded the prestigious Ballon d'Or prize, recognizing him as the world's best soccer player for the second year in a row.

Messi faced competition from his more favored Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi, but saw off the Spaniards to retain his title.

"To be honest, I didn't expect to win today, but it was great to be here next to my two mates," said 23-year-old Messi.

Messi and Diego Maradona at the World Cup

Messi was not the favorite to take the Ballon d'Or

"I'd like to share this award with my team, all the people who have helped me and with all the Argentinean people."

Marta wins fifth Fifa prize

Hopes that the Ballon d'Or award for women's player of the year would go to a German were dashed, as Brazilian Marta won the title for an unprecedented fifth successive time.

"This is unbelievable!" Marta told the audience in Zurich as she accepted the prize. "It's an honor just to be nominated as there are so many great female players out there."

German national team players Birgit Prinz and Fatmire Bajramj were the other two nominees for the women's prize but failed to take Marta's crown.

Success for Germany's Neid

Germany had more luck in the category of World Coach of the Year for Women's Football, which was won by the German national coach Silvia Neid.

Coach Silvia Neid and player Birgit Prinz

Neid is looking to steer Germany to World Cup victory in 2011

Head national coach since 2005, Neid managed the German side to victory in the 2007 World Cup in China as well as the European Championships in 2009. Now the German side is favorite to take the World Cup title later this year on home soil.

"I'm delighted with this award," said Neid. "But without the good cooperation of my players and the support of the German Football Association, I wouldn't be here."

In the award for the Best Men's Coach, the prize went to Jose Mourinho for leading Inter Milan to the European Champions League title. The self-dubbed ‘Special One' beat Vincent del Bosque, coach of World Cup winning Spain, and Pep Guardiola of Spanish league champions Barcelona.

Mourinho, who now coaches Real Madrid, led Inter to the Italian league and cup double before leaving for Spain.

It is the first time Fifa has handed out coaching awards, and was voted on by national team coaches and captains plus selected reporters.

The newly named Fifa Ballon d'Or award resulted from the merger of the Fifa World Player and the Ballon d'Or awards.

Author: Catherine Bolsover
Editor: Ben Knight

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