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Sunday 24 September 2017

Trap snub to golden Messi

LIONEL MESSI was crowned the world's greatest player for the third year running but was amazingly snubbed by Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni.

In voting for the prestigious award, the veteran Italian coach gave his first preference (worth five points) to Xavi, his second which is worth three points to Wayne Rooney and his third preference to Andres Iniesta for a solitary point.

Irish captain Robbie Keane also disagreed with the selection. The 31-year-old voted Iniesta the best, followed by Messi and Inter's Wesley Sneijder.

Alex Ferguson paid tribute to Messi after the Barcelona star was awarded the FIFA Ballon d'Or for the third successive year.

The Argentina forward beat team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to the title of the world's best player.

Messi, man of the match in the Champions League final last year, also won the Spanish league, Spanish Supercopa, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup last year.

Manchester United manager Ferguson, himself the recipient of the FIFA presidential award for services to football, said Messi could now be judged alongside the greats of world football, even though he is still only 24.

"Critics have always questioned whether players like Pele from the '50s could play today," said Ferguson.

"The answer to that is great players would play in any generation. Lionel Messi could play in the 1950s and the present day, as could Di Stefano, Pele, Maradona, Cruyff because they are all great players.

"Lionel Messi without question fits into that category."

Messi's Barcelona team-mate Xavi supported Ferguson's view, saying: "He's still young, only 24, and I think he's going to break all the records that exist in this sport.

"He's going to be one of the best footballers in the history of the sport."

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic were both included in the world XI dominated by Spain-based players.

Rooney said at the gala: "It was a great year and the highlight was winning the Premier League for the 19th time, which was a great moment for the club."

Barcelona's Pep Guardiola was named coach of the year; Japan's women's World Cup-winning captain Homare Sawa the women's player; Japan's (male) manager Norio Sasaki coach of the year for women's football; the Japanese FA were awarded the FIFA fair play award; and Brazilian 19-year-old sensation Neymar won the FIFA Puskas award for the best goal of 2011.

France legend Michel Platini said he believed Messi must win a World Cup with Argentina before he could be considered a contender as the greatest player of all time.

Platini hailed the 24-year-old Barcelona forward as one of the greats last night but he believes Messi must win football's biggest prize in order to rival Pele and Diego Maradona -- the men most often mentioned as the greatest of all time.

"Messi will always be great with or without (winning) a World Cup -- but the World Cup, it's something special," said Platini. "The World Cup will stay in the mind of the people."

FIFPro WORLD XI: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd).

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