After breaking numerous records during 2012, it was only fitting that Messi should begin 2013 by breaking yet another and winning his fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or FIFA World Player of the Year award. Actually, it’s Messi’s third Ballon D’or as the old European Player of the Year award was only merged with FIFA’s award in 2010, but it is the fourth year in a row that Messi has been recognized as the world’s number one by FIFA—more than anyone else in history.
However, since European players were only eligible for the old Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year was not inaugurated until in 1991, greats like Diego Maradona and Pele never had the chance to win any.
Messi was once again the clear winner picking up a huge 41.6% of the votes, with Ronaldo second with 23.7%, and Iniesta third with 10.9%. Ronaldo surprisingly picked up less votes than he did in 2011, despite 2012 being a very productive year for the Portuguese winger—he scored more goals that he did in 2011, lead Real Madrid and Portugal to the Semi-finals of a major cup competition, and was the key figure in Madrid overhauling the mighty Barcelona to the La Liga crown for the first time in three years.
Messi on the other hand, perhaps endured his most disappointing season in recent memory, losing out on both La Liga and the Champions League, but the young Argentine was still favorite to win the award after breaking Germany striker Gerd Mueller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year from 1972.
Messi scored a whooping 91 goals in 2012, netting 79 goals for Barcelona, plus another 12 for Argentina, in 69 games for club and country, and in the end this exceptional feat seems to have sealed him his fourth win.
“To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable,” said Messi. “The fourth award that I have had is just too great for words.
“I would like to recognize my other colleagues from Barcelona. Andres, it has been great to train and play alongside you.
“I would also like to recognize all of my friends in the Argentina national team, everyone that has worked with me, coaches and staff and my family and my friends. Also my wife and my son. Thank you.”
Some may question whether Messi deserves the award again, but few would argue against Messi being the best player in the world, or of all time. “For as long as Messi is around, the Ballon d’Or makes no sense,” Dani Alves said.
The worrying thing for everyone else is that Messi has started this season even better than he did last season—he’s already scored 36 times in 27 games—and with Barca eleven points clear at the top of La Liga and looking even better than they were under Pep Guardiola it looks like 2013 could be his best year yet.
It looks like it could be a very long time until anyone else has a chance of winning the Ballon d’Or.