Fabio Cannavaro awarded Leo Messi his fourth successive Ballon d'Or in Zurich on Monday night, to make the Barcelona and Argentina forward the most decorated player ever on an individual level.
Messi has now broken the records set by Johan Cruyff (1971, 1973, 1974), Michel Platini 1983, 1984, 1985) and Marco Van Basten (1988, 1989 and 1992), who all won the award three times.
'La Pulga' won 41.6% of the votes, beating fellow finalists Cristiano Ronaldo - who received 23.68% - and Andrés Iniesta, who won 10.91%.
"The truth is, it's an incredible feeling to pick up this award again, to win four Ballon d'Ors, and to win them all consecutivel," said Messi when picking up the award.
"I want to share this award with and thank my Barcelona team-mates, especially Andrés (Iniesta) - playing with you everyday is incredible. I also want to share this award with my Argentina team-mates, with the captains and the coaches.
"I am overwhelmed. Of course, I also want to thank my family and friends, and especially my wife and my son, who are the greatest thing this world has given me."
Messi, who has effectively owned the Ballon d'Or since winning it for the first time in 2009, scored 91 goals over the course of 2012, but the player himself admtited before the ceremony that it has not been his best year. He missed out on the two most important team trophies, the La Liga title and the Champions League, just winning the Copa del Rey. However, on a personal level it was his most successful year ever, as he was the top scorer in Spain and in Europe in 2011-12, and he broke Gerd Müller's record of 85 goals scored in a calendar year.
The 25-year-old also had a memorable year with his national side, leading his Argentina side to the top of their World Cup Qualifying group and scoring a fantastic winning goal against the old enemy Brazil in a friendly.