Zurich, Jan 8 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Lionel Messi won the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year award for a record fourth-successive time after a record-breaking haul of 91 goals over 12 months.
Messi smashed Gerd Muller's 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year to beat his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta to the accolade.
"To tell the truth this is really unbelievable to get this award, to get a fourth award, and the fourth-consecutive award," the 25-year-old winger said Monday in his acceptance speech.
"I would like to recognise my colleagues from Barcelona. Andres, it's a proud moment to be by your side this year. I would like to thank my family, my friends, my wife and my son."
The only players to have won the award three times in a row are the Argentinean star himself and UEFA president Michel Platini.
Dutch legends Marco van Basten and Johan Cruyff have won the gong three times but not in succession.
Ronaldo, the 2008 Ballon d'Or winner who was nominated for hitting 46 goals to propel Real Madrid to the Spanish title, finishes behind Messi for the second-straight year.
Iniesta was shortlisted after his spectacular form helped Spain retain their European Championship title in the summer, and he was named player of the tournament. Iniesta was runner-up to Messi in 2010.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque won the coach of the year award.