Lionel Messi added yet another record to his stellar list of achievements over the past 12 months on Monday when he won an unprecedented fourth, consecutive, Ballon d’Or at a FIFA gala in Zurich.
The accolade seals Messi’s status as the greatest player of his generation after he saw off Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta for the prize.
Messi received a vote share of 41.60 percent, to 23.68 for Ronaldo and 10.91 for Iniesta.
Messi and former French star, UEFA president Michel Platini, had prior to Monday been the only players to win three straight Ballon d’Or awards, while Dutch greats Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten both won the accolade on three occasions.
Spain’s Vicente del Bosque was named coach of the year for last year, seeing off competition from Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho and former Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola.
Messi’s success crowned another landmark year for the Argentine who is already the top scorer in La Liga for the ongoing season with 25 goals, having also broken Gerd Mueller’s 40-year record for the most goals in a calendar year.
He finished last year with an astonishing 91 goals in all competitions.
However, Messi has insisted his scoring records will mean nothing if Barcelona do not go on to take the La Liga title off Real, or fail to win the Champions League.
“It is incredible to receive this prize once again and it’s impressive that it makes it four in a row. Each one is special. You never come here thinking you are going to win. I would like to share this with my Barca teammates — particularly with Andres, who is here with me,” the ever-unassuming Messi said.
“I am proud to be able to train alongside him every day. I am also thinking of my teammates in the Argentina squad,” he added. “Thank you to all those who voted for me, skippers, coaches and national coaches.”
“Thank you too to my family, my friends and of course my wife and son, who is the best thing that ever happened to me,” said the 25-year-old from Rosario, who in November last year became a father to son Thiago.