Lionel Messi of Argentina holds the Ballon d'Or trophy
during the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012 football awards ceremony
at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland. REUTERS/Michael
Argentina's Lionel Messi, still only 25, has been named
the world's best player for an unprecedented fourth year
The award, officially known as the FIFA Ballon d'Or, came
after the Barcelona player scored a remarkable 91 goals in
2012, a record for a calendar year.
Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo was
second, the third time the 2008 winner has finished
runner-up, and Barcelona and Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta
was third as Spain again missed out.
Despite dominating international football for the last four
years, no Spanish player has won the award.
"It's incredible to win a fourth in a row, amazing," said
Messi. "I want to share this with my Barcelona team-mates and
my Argentina team-mates."
Although Messi did not have an outstanding year in terms of
Barcelona titles, missing out on the Champions League and La
Liga, he enjoyed a resurgence of form with Argentina, scoring
12 goals including his first two international hat-tricks.
Spain's Vicente del Bosque was voted as coach of the year for
the first time after his team won Euro 2012, holding off Real
Madrid's Jose Mourinho and former Barcelona coach Pep
"I want to remember all the coaches I had in my career who
all encourage me to become a coach," he said before appealing
to his fellow coaches and players for better behaviour.
"I think everyone in football, we all feel this fascination
for the game, we want the same but we want to defend
football, to take care of it and behave with the highest
ethics and best personal conduct."
Messi was voted FIFA Player of the Year in 2009 before
picking up the new-look award in 2010 and 2011 after it was
fused with the Ballon d'Or award previously handed out by
France Football magazine.
Brazilian Ronaldo and Frenchman Zinedine Zidane both won the
old FIFA award three times, although neither did so in
successive years, while Michel Platini won the France
Football award three times successively in the 1980s.
The team of the year featured Iker Casillas in goal, Dani
Alves, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo, in defence,
Xabi Alonsi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta in midfield and Messi,
Radamel Falcao and Cristiano Ronaldo in attack
The best goal of the year was given to Slovakian forward
Miroslav Stoch for his effort for Fenerbahce against
Genclerbirligi in a Turkish Super League match, hooking the
ball into the goal from the edge of the penalty area.
Former West Germany captain and coach Franz Beckenbauer was
given the presidential award for outstanding service to
Abby Wambach became the first American since 2002 to win the
women's Player of the Year award. Swede Pia Sundhage, who led
the United States to the gold medal at the Olympic Games, was
named coach of the year for women's football.
Uzbekistan won the fair play award for their overall record
in Asian competitions.