Zurich, SWITZERLAND – Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or, the award given to the world’s best soccer player, for the fourth year in a row.
The 25-year-old Argentinian maestro beat Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and club team-mate Andres Iniesta to clinch the FIFA gong at an awards ceremony in Zurich.
The award caps a memorable year for the Barcelona and Argentina forward, who scored a record-breaking 92 goals in 69 games for club and country in 2012. Lionel Messi has also become the first player to win four consecutive Ballon d’Or awards; France international Michel Platini won in 1983, 1984, and 1985.
Messi, who before the ceremony was the strong favorite to win, captured 41.6% of the vote for the award. Ronaldo was second with 23.7%, while Iniesta secured 10.9%. As BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty writes:
“Ronaldo and Iniesta would be fitting and worthy winners in any era. This, however, is not any era – it is the Lionel Messi era.”
Despite the Argentinian scoring an avalanche of goals, Messi’s Barcelona team missed out on the 2011-12 La Liga league title and Champions League. However, they currently lead the Spanish league by 18 points from Real Madrid.
Elsewhere in the ceremony, Spain’s Vicente del Bosque was named coach of the year and the USA’s Abby Wambach won the women’s award.
Meanwhile, the FIFA team of the year was assembled entirely from players in Spain’s La Liga, with only three teams and two cities represented:
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Dani Alves (Barcelona)
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
You can check out all 92 of Lionel Messi’s goals in the video below (or see five of his best ever here). Do you think Messi deserved his latest Ballon d’Or, or would you have plumped for Ronaldo? Tell us in the comments!