World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi Golden Ball surprised Sepp Blatter

Argentina forward Lionel Messi (right) and Germany keeper Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer won the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper, while Lionel Messi was given the Golden Ball

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.

Relive all the goals from World Cup 2014

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.

What is Fifa's Technical Study Group?
The Golden Ball and other individual awards are chosen by Fifa's Technical Study Group, a 13-strong committee which analyses matches at international tournaments.
The group was set up after the 1966 World Cup to monitor trends and developments in the game.
Current members include former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier and ex-Hibernian boss Mixu Paatelainen.
Former Nigeria midfielder Sunday Oliseh and Ricki Herbert, who managed New Zealand at the 2010 World Cup, are also on the committee, which has no British representative.
Roy Hodgson was due to be invited into the Technical Study Group before he was appointed England manager.

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.

Highlights: Germany 1-0 Argentina

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.

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