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The Argentine is the first footballer to top our annual countdown on two separate occasions and told Goal.com he is thrilled at heading the list of the world's finest in 2010-11

EXCLUSIVE
By Ben Hayward & Ivar Matusevich

Lionel Messi says he is "proud and honoured" to top the Goal.com 50 list of the best footballers in the world in 2010-11.

Messi is the undisputed winner in Goal.com’s countdown, with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo coming home in second place, while his Barca team-mates Xavi and Andres Iniesta finished third and fourth respectively in a La Liga-dominated top four.

The Argentine forward, who topped the countdown in 2008-09 as Barca claimed an historic treble of Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles, came second last year to Inter playmaker Wesley Sneijder.

In 2010-11, however, he sealed his return to top spot by netting 53 times from his usual starting spot as a ‘false’ No. 9, leading Barca to a third consecutive Primera Division title and a second Champions League success in three years.

He struck brilliant and vital goals against Arsenal and Real Madrid in the process, before adding another stunning strike in the Champions League final against Manchester United at Wembley, as the Catalan giants collected the fabled trophy for the fourth time.

“To win the Goal.com 50 makes me proud and honoured,” Messi told Goal.com.

“I thank all of Goal.com’s staff and the millions of readers who have always given me so much affection.

“This makes me very happy and gives me more strength to continue working with humility for my club and my beloved national team. Thank you very much.”

Leo’s father, Jorge, also expressed his delight at the accolade, exclaiming to Goal.com: “This is amazing for us, we never expected it.

“For Lionel, of course, it won’t change his life and he doesn’t like to give too much importance to this type of thing, but to be chosen as the best of the top 50 best players is something very important and has left him on a real high.”

Messi becomes the first player to win the Goal 50 twice (2008-09 and 2010-11) after previous winners Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08) and Wesley Sneijder (2009-10).

For the full analysis of all the facts and figures from the Goal.com 50, click here.

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