Lionel Messi has been crowned the world’s best player for a record fourth season running after being awarded the 2012 Ballon d’Or.
Messi was considered the clear front-runner for the award after scoring 91 goals for club and country in 2012, breaking Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old tally of 85 goals for Bayern Munich and Germany in the process.
The Argentine once again topped the polls ahead of Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta, the star player in Spain’s unprecedented hat-trick of international tournament victories, and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, the last player to win the award before Messi‘s four-year stranglehold on football’s most prestigious individual prize began.
Arguably the best dribbler in football since compatriot Diego Maradona, Messi has become a deadly finisher in recent seasons. In March he set a Champions League record when he scored five goals against Bayer Leverkusen in a 7-1 victory, while a hat-trick against Granada just days later saw him break Barcelona’s all-time scoring record.
His 14 goals in Barcelona’s failed Champions League campaign broke the competition’s record that he had previously shared with Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Those goals also helped him break the first of Muller’s records to fall to the Argentine in 2012, surpassing the German’s 67 goals in a season and setting a new record with 73 strikes in 2011-12.
In spite of that, Messi admitted on Monday that 2012 may not be his finest season, after missing out on the Champions League and La Liga titles.
“To be honest, I’m not that interested in my personal records, but in the team’s success,” he told reporters ahead of the ceremony. My objective is to improve with the team, which of course is easier when you win.”
The trio were also named in the FIFPro World XI alongside Iker Casillas, Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez, and Falcao.
World Coach of the Year award went to Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque, while Franz Beckenbauer was the recipient of the FIFA Presidential Award, “bestowed upon a person or institution that has made a superlative contribution to football without seeking to monopolise the limelight”.
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