Rio Ferdinand led the tributes to Lionel Messi after the Barcelona superstar lifted a fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or award in Zurich last night (Tuesday).

The Argentine playmaker beat teammate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo to the honour, and was quickly congratulated by his fellow professionals.

Manchester United defender Ferdinand had earlier voiced his support for former teammate Ronaldo, suggesting his success in La Liga could be enough to pip Messi to the award.

“Fifa Ballon D'or who we thinking?? I think @Cristiano deserves it as he also inspired his team to win La Liga...Messi would be deserving too,” he wrote on Twitter.

However, the ex-England star was more than happy to congratulate the 25-year-old on another unique achievement, and posed the ultimate question as to whether Messi is the greatest of all-time.

Ferdinand later tweeted: “Congrats to Messi! Wow, 4 yrs in a row!! Messi has added something else to his list of 'the only person to....#isMessiTheBestOfAllTime??”

Ex-Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas was also quick to praise his Barca teammates, and told Iniesta it was ‘huge’ to be on the final shortlist for the award.

"Congratulations Leo, forth time as the best player of #ballondor, you deserve it. And also to @andresiniesta8, huge to be there," he tweeted after the result was announced.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero was also happy to voice his support for compatriot Messi, simply Tweeting his name four times to represent each FIFA Ballon d’Or victory.

He tweeted: "Messi, Messi, Messi, Messi."

Messi could potentially be back in action in Barcelona's Copa del Rey clash against Cordoba on Thursday night, whilst Ferdinand will hope to feature for the Red Devils against Liverpool on Sunday in the Premier League.

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