The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 8, 2013

Messi on top

ZURICH — Lionel Messi became the first four-time winner of the FIFA Player of the Year award after shattering the world record with 91 goals last year for Barcelona and Argentina.

The 25-year-old won for the fourth straight time, beating Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta in voting announced Monday. His 91 goals topped Gerd Mueller’s mark of 85 for Bayern Munich and Germany in 1972.

Abby Wambach became the first American to win FIFA Women’s Player of the Year since Mia Hamm in 2001 and 2002. Pia Sundhage was voted top women’s coach after leading Wambach and the U.S. team to the gold medal at last summer’s London Olympics.

Messi received 41.60 percent of the points in votes by national team coaches and captains plus selected media. Ronaldo got 23.68 percent and Iniesta 10.91 percent.

“To tell the truth, this is really unbelievable to get the fourth award. I am so nervous,” Messi said in Spanish, wearing a black tuxedo jacket and bow tie, both with a white polka-dot pattern in an unexpectedly flamboyant touch.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann and captain Carlos Bocanegra both voted Messi first, as did Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy.

“Whether I win or not it doesn’t matter, it’s a privilege to be here,” Ronaldo, the 2008 winner, said at a pre-gala news conference he attended while wearing a New York Yankees cap.

Zinedine Zidane of France and Ronaldo of Brazil were voted FIFA Player of the Year three times before the award merged in 2010 with France Football’s Golden Ball, given to the European player of the year. The Golden Ball, or Ballon d’Or, was won three times by Michel Platini of France and Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten of the Netherlands.

The 32-year-old Wambach received 20.67 percent to edge teammate Alex Morgan (13.5) and five-time winner Marta of Brazil (10.87). Jill Ellis, who was interim U.S. coach last fall, voted Wambach first, as did Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, while American captain Christie Rampone voted Morgan first.

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