ZURICH - Lionel Messi added yet another record to his stellar list of achievements over the past 12 months yesterday when he won an unprecedented fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or as world football's best player at a FIFA gala awards ceremony in Zurich.
The accolade seals Messi's status as the greatest player of his generation after he saw off Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta for the prize.
Voting is conducted by national team coaches and captains around the world plus invited media.
Messi received a vote share of 41.60 per cent to 23.68 for Ronaldo and 10.91 for Iniesta. Messi and former French star, UEFA president Michel Platini, had prior to yesterday been the only players to win three straight Ballon d'Or awards while Dutch greats Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten both won the accolade on three occasions.
United States forward Abby Wambach was named women's world player of the year, adding the game's biggest individual prize to her London Olympics gold medal.
Wambach is the first American to be voted the world's best since Mia Hamm won the 2002 women's award.
The 32-year-old Wambach edged her national team strike partner Alex Morgan and five-time winner Marta of Brazil in the voting.