Lionel Messi has won his fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or, in front of teammate Andres Iniesta and rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
"I'm quite nervous, I would really like to thank my family, and specially my wife and son, that is the most beautiful thing God has given me," stated a clearly emotional Messi.
He has become the first man to win the award four times, leaving behind Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten, all on three. Only Brazilian footballer Marta can boast to have been chosen as best footballer on the planet more times. She has won five FIFA World Player of the Year awards and this year was succeeded by Abby Wambach from the USA. The striker has won five US Soccer Athlete of the Year awards.
The coach’s prize went for Vicente del Bosque following a fantastic run with Spain, capturing the Euro 2012 title after leading Spain to the World Cup in 2010.
The Women’s FIFA Coach of the Year award was won by Pia Sundhage for her work as head coach of the USA Women’s National Team. She led her side, including Wambach, to the Olympic gold in the 2012 London Olympics after having reached the final in the Women’s World Cup in 2011. Her acceptance speech was special to say the least and can be seen here.
Miroslav Stoch was something of a surprise winner of the FIFA Puskas Best Goal of 2012 award for his tremendous volley scored against Genclerbirligi for Fenerbahce. His goal received more votes than those of Radamel Falcao and Neymar. You can see all three nominated goals here.
As for the FIFA World XI for 2012, it was composed of Iker Casillas, Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernadez, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Radamael Falcao and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The FIFA Fair Play award went to Uzbekistan, having already won the AFC Fair Play Association of the Year award.