Messi Golden Ball ‘surprised’ Blatter

By BBC

Messi was awarded the Golden Ball after Argentina’s 1-0 loss to Germany in Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro

Fifa president Sepp Blatter says he was “a little bit surprised” Lionel Messi was named the World Cup’s best player.

Messi was awarded the Golden Ball after Argentina’s 1-0 loss to Germany in Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro.

Blatter believes Messi was given the award on the strength of his four goals during the group stage.

Argentina legend Diego Maradona also felt Messi was a surprise choice, claiming Colombia’s James Rodriguez performed better in Brazil.

Maradona, who was named the best player when Argentina won the World Cup in 1986, said “marketing people” had chosen the wrong man and called the decision “unfair”.

The Golden Ball and other individual prizes, such as the Golden Glove award for the best goalkeeper, are decided by Fifa’s Technical Study Group, a panel including former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier.

Messi set up his side’s winner against Switzerland in the last 16 but was only a sporadic threat in the semi-final against Netherlands, which Argentina won on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

The Barcelona star then missed a clear chance in the final, when put through on goal by Lucas Biglia.

Messi told Spanish newspaper AS: “Right now I don’t care about the prize. I wanted to take Argentina to the World Cup for all the people.”

Rodriguez finished as the competition’s top scorer, with six goals from five games as Colombia reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to hosts Brazil.

Fifa’s Technical Study Group awarded the Silver Ball – for the tournament’s second-best player – to Germany forward Thomas Muller, with Netherlands attacker Arjen Robben winning the Bronze Ball.

Germany’s Manuel Neuer collected the Golden Glove, while France midfielder Paul Pogba was named the tournament’s best young player.