FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted he was “a little bit surprised” Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi won the World Cup’s Golden Ball award.
Barcelona playmaker Messi ended up on the losing side in Sunday’s World Cup final defeat to Germany but still walked away with the honour of being the best player at Brazil 2014.
The 27-year-old scored four goals in the tournament but could do nothing to stop the Germans from picking up their fourth world title in Rio de Janeiro thanks to an extra-time strike from Mario Gotze that sealed a 1-0 win for Joachim Low’s men.
Blatter, who presented Messi with the award which was decided by FIFA’s technical study group, said: “I was a little bit surprised when I saw Messi coming up to collect the best player of the competition.”
All of Messi’s goals came in the group stage – including a late winner against Iran – and Blatter felt the Camp Nou legend had been rewarded for helping La Albiceleste to three Group F victories and maximum points.
He added: “If you compare the beginning of the tournament and why finally the Argentina team got into the final, they were decisive and I think it was a decision [based on that].”
The Argentina captain will now head back to Barcelona following a summer break as he looks to make up for his World Cup disappointment by helping the Catalans restore some pride under new boss Luis Enrique after a poor 2014-15 season.
The Golden Glove award went to Germany’s Manuel Neuer while France midfielder Paul Pogba was named Best Young Player.
Colombia’s James Rodriguez was the top goalscorer and claimed the Golden Boot after finding the back of the net six times.