MADRID - Lionel Messi's 2009 Ballon d'Or prize is a just reward for the player and the Barcelona team, coach Pep Guardiola said on Tuesday.
The Argentina forward was the runaway winner in voting organised by France Football magazine, ahead of Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca team mate Xavi.
"(The difference) is in his (Messi's) competitive spirit," Guardiola told a news conference. "He has all the resources at his disposal, he's tough, quick, a goal-scorer, intelligent and reads the game well.
"It is a prize for him and the team. He's a deserved winner and a player on a different level." Barca won the Champions League-La Liga-King's Cup treble last season.