Barcelona player Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Or award
Argentine footballer Lionel Messi, who plays for Barcelona FC, has received the Ballon d'Or 2009 award as the best Europe-based footballer of the year. The award was voted on by journalists from across the world.
He’s not yet known as the “golden boy” like his fellow Argentine footballer, Diego Maradona. But Lionel Messi already has all of Maradona’s class. He’s got vision, instinct, tactical genius, and he has proved that he can handle pressure on the field. Argentina’s new national football hero is a golden boy whose magical left foot has elevated him to Ballon d’Or status.
The Ballon d’Or, sometimes referred to as the European Footballer of the Year, is an annual award presented to the best Europe-based footballer. The award was conceived in the 1950s by the then editor of “France Football,” a French bi-weekly magazine.
This year, the members of the “France Football” jury, sport journalists from across the world, voted for the Barcelona player, making Messi the first Argentine to receive the award. At 22, he has proved to be one of the most gifted players of his generation. He succeeds other legendary footballers, such as 25-year-old Brazilian player Kaka in 2007 and 23-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008.
Overcoming a growth deficiency hormone
Born in Rosario, in the Santa Fe region of northern Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at the age of 11, but his talent was spotted by a national football club owner. Messi’s rise to prominence is deeply linked to Barcelona FC. After a test in July 2000, the club immediately brought him to Europe and paid the medical bills for the treatment of his condition. Messi was quickly noticed at the “Masia”, the club’s training centre, and he ended up playing his first professional game aged just 17.
He helped revive Barcelona FC, leading his team to a series of resounding victories at home and abroad. His goal against Manchester United in the Champions League final still echoes across Europe. Fans have witnessed the meteoric rise and consecration of Messi, who was crowned best scorer of the Champions League with 9 goals (23 in the Spanish Liga in the last season).
Barcelona FC has taken the Spanish Liga by storm, crushing its arch-rival Real Madrid 6-2 in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, with Messi scoring twice. Besides the Liga title, the Catalan club has also won the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup.
Messi is now set to display his talents on the World Cup stage in South Africa next summer and, hopefully, join Maradona in the pantheon of football gods.