New Delhi :Argentine virtuoso Lionel Messi's mesmerising run into opposition half and his goal-scoring abilities have earned him India captain Bhaichung Bhutia's vote for the 2009 FIFA World Footballer of the year.
Bhaichung, who has been voting for the World Footballer of the Year for a couple of years now, picked Real Madrid and Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008 but shifted loyalty to Messi this time considering his outstanding year with Barcelona.
Ronaldo got Bhaichung's third preference vote while Messi's Barcelona teammate Andre Iniesta was his second choice.
"I voted for Lionel Messi for the 2009 World Footballer of the year, Andres Iniesta second preference and Cristiano Ronaldo third," Bhaichung said from Kolkata.
Messi and Iniesta played a big role in Barcelona winning a treble of titles -- UEFA Champions League, Spanish La Liga and Copa Del Rey -- this year.
FIFA had, on October 30, nominated 23 players for the world's top football award. The list would be pruned to five early next month after voting by the captains and coaches of national teams. The final winner will be announced at the FIFA Award's Night on December 19.
Bhaichung said he and his Indian team-mates were to vote for the FIFPro World XI team for which 55 players were shortlisted but could not do it.
"The Indian team players were to nominate the World XI but could not do it. It is a bit late to do that now," said Bhaichung, who is the president of Football Players's Association of India (FPAI) which has got recognition from FIFPro (Federation of International Football Players' Associations)," Bhutia said.
He said the FPAI award's night which was earlier planned for December 13 may be postponed by a couple of days but will be held in Kolkata.
"The awards night may be postponed by a day or two because India is unlikely to play the international friendly on December 12. But it will be held in Kolkata," he said.
The All India Football Federation had planned an international friendly against reigning Asian champions Iraq on December 12.
But it is unlikely to happen now because Iraq have been recently banned by FIFA on the ground that its government had a lot of interference on the functioning of its national football body.