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Messi Wins Fourth Ballon d'Or

Lionel Messi's name continued to take over the history books as he lifted the FIFA Ballon d'Or trophy for the fourth year in a row.

The mesmerising Argentine would better the achievements of former superstars Zinedine Zidane (France) and Ronaldo (Brazil) - who both claimed the World Player of the Year prize three times since its inauguration in 1991.

Messi has been arguably the most devastating player in Europe of the last few years and at times single-handedly ripped teams to shreds to propel Barca to unprecedented success.

In 2012, his ruthless form continued as he scored a phenomenal 91 goals in the calendar year to eclipse German legend Gerd Muller's previous record of 85 goals.

His competition for the personal accolade was stiff though. Double Euro and World Cup-winning midfielder Andres Iniesta was hot on his heels along with Cristiano Ronaldo, who fired Real Madrid to the La Liga title last season.

This achievement, though, confirms Messi as the best player of his generation - and a sure contender to become one of the greatest ever.

In other results, USA veteran striker Abby Wambach claimed the Women's Player of the Year title for helping to fire her team to the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, and she beat off upcoming USA talent Alex Morgan as well as five-time winner Marta, of Brazil.

The FIFA FIFPro World XI was dominated by players from Real Madrid and Barcelona, with Radamel Falcao being the only player in the team that did not hail from the Spanish giants - although he does ply his trade in Spain with Atletico Madrid.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque beat off Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho and former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to the Coach of the Year award after having taken the national team to Euro 2012 title.

The FIFA Puskas Award (best goal 2012) was awarded to Miroslav Stoch of Fenerbahce for his sublime volley from outside the area against Genclerbirligi.

Former USA women's team coach Pia Sunhage picked up the Women's Coach of the Year award for her work with women's football's top side.

World Cup and Euro-winning German legend Franz Beckenbauer picked up the FIFA Presidential award for his immense contribution to the game, while the Uzbekistan Football Federation bagged the FIFA Fair Play Award.

Full awards were as follows:

Player of the Year: Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)

Women's Player of the Year: Abby Wambach (USA)

Men's Coach of the Year: Vicente del Bosque (Spain)

Women's Football Coach of the Year: Pia Sundhage (former USA coach)

FIFA FIFPro World XI:

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas

Defenders: Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo.

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Andres Iniesta,

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Radamel Falcao, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Presidential Award: Franz Beckenbauer

FIFA Fair Play Award: Uzbekistan Football Federation

FIFA Puskas Award: Miroslav Stoch (Fenerbahce)

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