Lionel Messi simply cannot be stopped. Earlier this week the Argentine-born striker took home his third successive FIFA Ballon d’Or as the world’s top footballer. He leads the world’s best team, and he’s posted some unfathomable numbers on the pitch, including scoring 50 goals in 47 games for FC Barcelona this past season, and 33 goals in 27 appearances thus far in 2011/2012 for Barca.
As if that perhaps unparalleled success weren’t enough, the great Sir Alex Ferdinand of Manchester United has some high praise for the mere 1.7 meter man.
Said Ferdinand: “Critics have always questioned whether players like Pele from the 50s could play today. 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.”
Teammate and fellow candidate for player of the year Xavi also had kind words for the electric Messi.
“He’s still young, only 24, and I think he’s going to break all the records that exist in this sport,” said Xavi. “He’s going to be one of the best footballers in the history of the sport.”
On pace for another monster season for Barca, which surprisingly stands in second place behind super rivals Real Madrid in La Liga standings, there’s really no reason to expect Messi won’t be a finalist for a shocking fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or come season’s end, should he be able to avoid any major injury on the pitch.
That may be in part because Messi knows not only what to do on the pitch, but what to say off it. He had some kind words for his teammate Xavi after accepting the award.
“I want to share this award specially with my friend Xavi,” said Messi. “This is the fourth time that we are are together at this ceremony and it is a pleasure for me to be with him on the pitch. This Ballon d’Or is also yours. Without your help I would not be here.”
It seems his great goal scorer also knows when to drop an assist.