Lionel Messi has hailed the incredible feeling football has given him after he won the Ballon d’Or award for an unprecedented fifth time.
The Barcelona forward reclaimed the biggest individual accolade in world football 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.”
Messi secured 41.33 per cent of the vote, with Portugal hitman Ronaldo getting 27.76 per cent and third-placed Brazil striker Neymar 7.86 per cent.
Messi and Neymar helped Barca win the Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble in 2015, plus the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
Ronaldo scored more goals than Messi over the calendar year, netting 54 for Madrid, but it was not enough for his side to win any silverware.
Monday’s ceremony also saw Barca boss Luis Enrique take the men’s world coach of the year award as he came ahead of his predecessor, Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola.
In the category for world coach of the year for women’s football, England boss Mark Sampson was beaten to the award by United States counterpart Jill Ellis.
Sampson, who on Monday extended his contract as England head coach to 2019, guided his side to third place at last summer’s World Cup, which was won by Ellis’ team.
United States midfielder Carli Lloyd claimed the women’s world player of the year gong.
John Terry, Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale were the only British players to have made the 55-man shortlist for the FIFPro world XI, but none of the trio were included in the final line-up.