In Depth

Lionel Messi beats Cristiano Ronaldo to claim fifth Ballon d'Or

Argentine wins back award after two years, but Neymar's hat and James Nesbitt's hair steal the limelight

Fifa's annual showdown between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo went the way of the Argentine on Monday evening as he won an unprecedented fifth Ballon d'Or. Messi has lost out to Ronaldo for the last two years but the 48 goals he scored for Barcelona in 2015 allowed him to regain the title in a lavish ceremony in Zurich.

Ronaldo and Messi have shared the Ballon d'Or between them for the last eight years and this year the Barcelona striker won with 41.33 percent of the vote, way ahead of the Real Madrid star whose share was 27.76 percent. Messi's teammate, Neymar, finished in third with just 7.86 percent, although, as the Daily Mirror notes, he compensated for his poor showing by wearing an amusing hat.

Receiving his award from Kaka, the 2007 winner, Messi said: "It's incredible this is my fifth. It's much more than anything I dreamed of as a kid... It is a very special moment for me to be back here on this stage, winning again another Ballon d'Or after being there in the audience watching Cristiano win."

Barcelona won five titles last season, including La Liga and the Champions League, and Messi's goal tally for the club in league matches now stands at 295 in 328 appearances.

"I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I want to thank my team-mates," he said in his acceptance speech. "Without them none of this would be possible. Lastly I want to thank football in general for everything it has brought me, both the bad and the good, because it has made me grow and learn."

But the growth that had the press and public talking in Zurich belonged to the ceremony's presenter, Irish actor James Nesbitt. As the Daily Mail reports the 50-year-old was the "mane attraction" for sporting what the paper described "fuller locks which caught the eye on the night".

 

 Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

A week after appearing on the Graham Norton show with hair that looked thin and grey, Nesbitt's full head "overshadowed" Messi's achievement, according to the Belfast Telegraph, which says he "stole the show" with his lavish locks that might perhaps have been best concealed under Neymar's hat.

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk.

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