Lionel Messi wins record fourth Ballon d'Or


Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been awarded the Ballon d'Or for a fourth consecutive year in a ceremony on Monday evening. Messi, aged 25, bagged no less than 91 goals in 2012 and beat club team-mate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid's Ronaldo to the trophy. Howecer, despite Messi's incredible goalscoring record, Barcelona failed to win either the Spanish league title or Champions League last year. Abby Wambach won the women's award and Vicente del Bosque the award for best coach of the year, while the team of the year was made up only of players from Spain's La Liga.

Messi was part of a three-man shortlist for the prize, which is voted for by journalists, and national coaches and captains, alongside midfielder Iniesta and Portuguese forward Ronaldo. The Argentinian ace becomes the first player to win four consecutive Ballons d'Or, breaking the record he jointly held with former France international, and current Uefa president, Michel Platini.

"To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable," said Messi. "The fourth award that I have had is just too great for words. I would like to recognise my other colleagues from Barcelona. Andres, it has been great to train and play alongside you. I would also like to recognise all of my friends in the Argentina national team, everyone that has worked with me, coaches and staff and my family and my friends. Also my wife and my son. Thank you."

Messi polled 41.6% of the votes, with Ronaldo taking 23.68% and Iniesta 10.91%. Messi has just broken another historic record, Germany striker Gerd Mueller's achievement of 85 goals in a calendar year from 1972. He bagged 79 goals for Barcelona, plus another 12 for Argentina, in 69 games for club and country in 2012.

The chosen Fifa world team of the year had the following structure: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) - Dani Alves (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid) - Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (Barcelona) - Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

USA forward Wambach was named women's world player of the year, the first American to win the award since Mia Hamm in 2002. Vicente Del Bosque and Pia Sundhage collected the men's and women's coaching awards for their work with Spain and USA respectively. The Puskas Award for goal of the year went to Fenerbahce's Slovakian striker Miroslav Stoch for his strike against Genclerbirligi in March. Franz Beckenbauer received the Fifa Presidential Award and Uzbekistan won the fair play accolade for their disciplinary record.

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