Messi grateful for Ballon d'Or Dream Team spot

File photo: Barcelona's Lionel Messi with his six Ballon d'Or trophies. (Photo: Agencies)

BUENOS AIRES -- Lionel Messi, Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo said Monday they felt honored to be named in the greatest team of all time by France Football.

Having cancelled its annual Ballon d'Or award for the world's best footballer because of the coronavirus pandemic, the weekly magazine instead announced its best XI in history, as voted by journalists from 170 countries and regions.

"For me it is an honor to have been included in the eleven of the Ballon d'Or Dream Team," Messi, who has won the Ballon d'Or a record six times, said in an Instagram post.

"I want to thank you for choosing me and also congratulate all the players who were selected ... and all the nominees, there are real phenomena on that list."

As expected, the esteemed line-up included Brazil's three-time World Cup winner Pele and legendary Argentinian Diego Maradona, who died last month of a heart-attack.

The team also included goalkeeper Lev Yashin; defenders Cafu, Franz Beckenbauer and Paolo Maldini; and midfielders Xavi and Lothar Matthaus.

Ronaldo, a two-time World Cup winner and dual Ballon d'Or recipient, expressed pride at being named in the No. 9 position.

"It's such an honor to be elected the best centre forward of all time in the Dream Team by France Football," Ronaldo said on Instagram.

"I gave my life for football and followed my dreams. No matter the obstacle I faced and the pain I had to overcome I was always focused to get where I wanted."

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the Ballon d'Or five times, said: "I'm very honoured to be part of France Football's all-time 11. What an amazing Dream Team. They all deserve my respect and admiration and I'm obviously proud to be amongst such extraordinary players. Thank you!"