Monday night saw the inevitable take place as Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was crowned the best player in the world for 2012 in winning the FIFA Ballon d’Or for a fourth time in a row.

He was the bookmakers’ hot favourite as soon as the nominees were announced and the record-breaking 91 goals in 2012 meant those arguing against the Camp Nou talisman were hard pressed.

Before this week Messi was level with one or two others on three trophies but his fourth took him past some of the most vaunted names in the history of world football, names that GMF bring you below.

These kinds of awards were a bit muddled until recently, as there were a few different gongs being handed out before FIFA combined the Ballon d’Or created by France Football with their own World Player of the Year.

French magazine France Football conceived the award in 1956 but it was limited to European players only, before including all players playing in Europe and finally including all of world football.

At that point it was rivalling FIFA directly and the governing body decided to buy the rights in 2010 and create an award that is now regarded as the most prestigious individual award in the game.

Some more grand names from further in the past do not appear – e.g. Pele, Maradona, etc. – because the early rules restricting the award of the Ballon d’Or to Europeans and FIFA’s gong only being founded in 1991.

Below are the players that are on a par Messi whom have won the Ballon d’Or or FIFA World Player of the Year three or more times and we are sure you’ll agree it is quite a list.

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