Lionel Messi has beaten Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta to the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or - claiming the prize for a record fourth time.
The Barcelona forward polled 41.6 percent of the votes - cast by national team captains, managers and prominent journalists - compared to 23.68 percent for second placed Ronaldo, and 10.91 percent for Iniesta in third.
Messi scored a record breaking 91 goals for club and country during 2012 - beating the previous highest haul set by Bayern Munich and West Germany legend Gerd Muller 40 years earlier.
The 25-year-old has now surpassed Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten by claiming the award for a fourth time, and also moves ahead of Brazilian Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane for their combined total of Ballon d'Or and World Player of the Year wins.
Messi has won the Ballon d'Or ever year since it was merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year, and adds his 2012 triumph to wins in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Argentina international scored 79 goals for Barcelona and 12 for his country in just 69 appearances in his astounding 2012.
"It’s really nice to win it again, for a fourth consecutive time. I'm really very happy," Messi said after his latest achievement.
"The fact is I enjoy the things that happen to me, the awards I’ve won, and I hope I can now go on and win more titles with my club and my national team."
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