Messi wins top player despite goaless World Cup

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Messi wins top player despite goaless World Cup

ZURICH - Lionel Messi’s mesmerizing performances for Barcelona outweighed a disappointing World Cup, ensuring the Argentine was named the world’s best player.

Messi won the FIFA award for a second straight year on Monday, finishing ahead of Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.

“It’s a very special day for me,’’ Messi said through a translator upon receiving the award at a gala ceremony in FIFA’s home city.

The 23-year-old Messi amassed 58 goals last year for an exciting Barcelona team that retained the Spanish league title and leads the standings this season. However, he failed to score in South Africa as Argentina exited in the quarterfinals.

“I didn’t expect to win it today,’’ Messi said. “Already it’s a source of happiness to be here with my friends and even more to win it.’’

Messi obtained 22.65 percent of the votes cast by coaches and captains of national teams plus invited journalists. The original shortlist featured 23 players. Andres Iniesta finished second with 17.36 percent and Xavi received 16.48 percent to finish third for the second straight year.

The award was renamed this year after FIFA merged its world player award with the Ballon d’Or trophy, which had been presented to the best player in Europe by France Football magazine since 1956. Jose Mourinho won the men’s coach award for leading Inter Milan to a treble including the Champions League.

Mourinho beat World Cup-winning Spain coach Vicente del Bosque and Pep Guardiola of Barcelona to the inaugural honor.

“The most important things for me are the collective titles, not the individual ones,’’ Mourinho said.

Brazil forward Marta won the women’s player award for a fifth straight year, defeating three-time German winner Birgit Prinz and Kosovo-born newcomer Lira Bajramaj. Marta was rewarded for her outstanding season with United States women’s professional league champion Gold Pride. She is a free agent after the Santa Clara, Calif., club folded in November.

Silvia Neid won the inaugural women’s coaching award for her work with the German national team, which defends its World Cup title at home in July.

Haitian football received the FIFA fair play award for its recovery from an earthquake which devastated the Caribbean island last January. The FIFA presidential award was given to Archbishop Desmond Tutu in recognition of South Africa’s organization of the World Cup.

Hamit Altintop won the Puskas Award for most beautiful goal in 2010 for his volley for Turkey against Kazakhstan in a 2012 European Championship qualifying match. The Bayern Munich midfielder connected with a right-footed shot 18 meters from the goal.

Altintop was chosen from a shortlist of 10 goals in a global online poll of more than 1 million fans. The award was named after the late Hungary and Real Madrid great Ferenc Puskas.

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