Argentina’s Lionel Messi, still only 25, was named the world’s best player for an unprecedented fourth year running on Monday.
The award, officially known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or, came after the Barcelona player scored a remarkable 91 goals in 2012, a record for a calendar year.
Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo was second, the third time the 2008 winner has finished runner-up, and Barcelona and Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta was third as Spain again missed out.
Despite dominating international football for the last four years, no Spanish player has won the award.
“It’s incredible to win a fourth in a row, amazing,” said Messi. “I want to share this with my Barcelona team mates and my Argentina team mates.”
Although Messi did not have an outstanding year in terms of Barcelona titles, missing out on the Champions League and La Liga, he enjoyed a resurgence of form with Argentina, scoring 12 goals including his first two international hat-tricks.
Spain’s Vicente del Bosque was voted as coach of the year for the first time after his team won Euro 2012, holding off Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho and former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.