Argentina striker Lionel Messi has been crowned world footballer of the year for a fourth successive time after claiming FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award at a ceremony in Zurich.
The 25 year old beat Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo to win the trophy.
Messi who finished 2012 with 91 goals becomes the only player in history to claim four awards, breaking the record he jointly held with UEFA president Michel Platini and Dutch duo Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten.
The Argentine international polled 41.60 per cent of the votes, with Ronaldo taking 23.68 per cent.
Despite leading Real Madrid to a sensational triumph in la Liga last year, the former United winger came second while his coach Jose Mourinho chose not to attend the ceremony.
Spanish international Andres Iniesta eventually had to settle for third place with 10.91 per cent.
The 28-year-old played in all six of Spain’s matches at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, and was named Man of the Match in three of those, including la Roja’s emphatic 4-0 win over Italy in the final.
And while USA forward Abby Wambach was named women’s world player of the year, Spain’s Vicente del Bosque was voted as coach of the year for the first time, holding off Mourinho and former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.