Spanish stars shine at Ballon d'Or

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AP

Lionel Messi shows off the FIFA Men's World Player of the Year Award during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2013 held at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Keystone, Steffen Schmidt)

Madrid - Sports figures and media hailed a great night for Spanish football on Monday after Liga star Lionel Messi won a fourth Ballon d'Or and national coach Vicente Del Bosque was crowned coach of the year.

Messi is from Argentina, but his prize was in large part a reward for his prolific goal-scoring for Spanish league-leaders Barcelona.

Del Bosque's honour meanwhile recognised Spain's Euro 2012

triumph, which followed its 2010 World Cup win and the 2008 Euro crown.

Despite being fiercely pro-Real Madrid, leading sports journal Marca ran a headline reading “The best in history” on its website, above photographs of Messi at each of his four Ballon d'Or prizegivings.

It hailed Del Bosque's award as “A prize for Spanish football.”

All three players on the shortlist for the world's best footballer award play in the Spanish league Ä Messi, his Barca teammate Andres Iniesta and rival striker Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.

In fact all of the top six names in the final ranking that Messi topped were from La Liga teams.

In the FIFPro selection for the best 11-man line-up, meanwhile, six were Spaniards and all but two were from the Spanish league.

That selection included Ronaldo and three other Real players - Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso - plus Iniesta, Messi and two other Barcelona players, Gerard Pique and Xavi Hernandez.

The president of Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, said he was “very proud of our players and to be with Barcelona”, the club said on its Twitter feed.

The president of the Spanish Royal Football Federation, Angel Villar, said Del Bosque's award was “a new prize for Spanish football that is going through some marvellous years.”

Outside of the footballing sphere, Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal in Twitter messages congratulated Messi and Del Bosque.

“Congrats to Leo Messi for his new golden ball,” he wrote. “It was difficult with two cracks like Iniesta and Cristiano.”

“How proud I feel of Del Bosque, making history with this great squad,” he added. - Sapa-AFP


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