Lionel Messi was the undoubted star of Monday evening’s FIFA Ballon d’Or 2011 Gala, the ever-humble Argentinian winning the award yet again. Wreathed in smiles as he clutched on to the coveted accolade, he gave his first impressions to FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: You’re the first player since Michel Platini to win the Ballon d’Or three times in a row. How do you feel?
Lionel Messi: I’m very proud to have won it three times, especially one after the other. It’s hard to win one, let alone three. I’m very happy and this award gives me as much pleasure as the first.
You dedicated the award to Xavi in particular. Do you think he might stop passing the ball to you so that he can win the Ballon d’Or himself?
No! He’s said lots of times what he thinks of me and I’ve said the same about him. We need each other and the friendship we have goes beyond any award.
You’re still very young. Have we seen the best of Messi or is there still more to come?
I hope I can keep on performing like this and win more team titles, which is what you need to make it to wonderful occasions like this. I want to achieve things with my national team and keep playing the way I am.
Do you think you still have something to prove with Argentina?
Yes. I’d love to win a title with the national team and I hope that’ll happen one day.
In which ways do you think you can still improve?
Like I said I just want to keep on performing. This is the fifth time I’ve had the good fortune to be at the Gala and I hope to come back many more times.
Did you ever think you’d ever achieve so much in such little time?
To be honest I didn’t. I dreamed about playing in the first division, but I never imagined that all these things would happen to me.
How does it feel to be the centre of attention on a night like this, with so many great players alongside you, many of whom you no doubt admired as a youngster?
(Blushes) I just want to keep on playing and enjoy this sport and the team we’ve got, and I hope we can keep our run going.
What’s your next objective for 2012?
The same as the start of every year: to try and do it all over again. We know it’s getting more and more difficult though.