Barcelona and Argentina’s Lionel Messi, the soccer player many believe is the best of all time, won the prestigious Ballon d’Or for a record fourth time (in a row, no less) in Zurich, Switzerland.
The 25-year-old Argentinian took the honour ahead of Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo. He enjoyed a remarkable 2012 even by his own high standards, most notably surpassing Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year, finishing with an incredible 91.
He noted, “To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable. The fourth award that I have had is just too great for words. I would like to recognise my other colleagues from Barcelona; Andres it has been great to train and play alongside you.”
Messi polled 41.60 per cent of the votes, with Ronaldo taking 23.68 per cent and Iniesta 10.91 per cent. Although he missed out on both the Primera Division and Champions League crowns, he racked up a host of personal achievements last year.
He scored an unprecedented 50 goals in a La Liga season, a record 14 goals in a Champions League season and became the first player to net five times in a Champions League match. He also shattered the myth that he does not perform as well for Argentina as he does for his club by scoring 12 goals for his country in nine games.
Messi’s fourth award takes him past the three won by both former Brazil striker Ronaldo and former France midfielder Zinedine Zidane.
Speaking at the pre-gala press conference, Messi claimed he did not consider 2012 his best year yet. He observed, “I’m more interested in team awards than I am about what I might win individually. There have been years where we won more titles that have been better.”