SPORT: LIONEL MESSI has netted the prestigious Ballon d’Or for an unprecedented FOURTH time.

Lionel Messi
PROUD WINNER … Lionel Messi shows off the Ballon d’Or awar

Barcelona ace Messi, 25, pipped Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and team-mate Andres Iniesta at the glittering awards ceremony in Zurich.

The European Ballon d’Or, last won by the Argie in 2009, merged with FIFA’s World Player of the Year award in 2010 to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
And Messi, who broke Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record last month by scoring 91 goals in a calendar year, had backed Iniesta to scoop the prize.
But the humble hitman got the nod to add to his growing collection of gongs — compunding what has been a miserable season so far for rival star Ronaldo.
With his side currently a whopping 16 points adrift of La Liga leaders Barca, Ron made his feelings clear in the build-up to the big night by claiming “life would go on” if he failed to win.

FINE MESS ... Messi receives the 2012 Ballon D'Or from Fabio Cannavar
FINE MESS … Messi receives the 2012 Ballon D’Or from Fabio Cannavaro

The former Manchester United man, 27, said: “If I win, perfect — if I don’t, never mind, life goes on.
“But obviously I’d love to win. I’m not going to lie or be hypocritical.
“Fair or unfair, the decision will be what it will. I’ll be very happy maybe or very sad, but that’s life.”

WHAT A LINE UP ... the FIFA/FIFPro World XI, top (l-r): Ronaldo, Marcello, Ramos, Pique, Alves, Casillas. Bottom (l-r) Falcao, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso
WHAT A LINE UP … the FIFA/FIFPro World XI, top (l-r): Ronaldo, Marcello, Ramos, Pique, Alves, Casillas. Bottom (l-r) Falcao, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso

Lionel Messi wins Ballon D'Or
EUROPE’S FINEST … Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta

POLKA FACE ... Messi at the Ballon D'Or awards ceremony in Zurich
POLKA FACE … Messi at the Ballon D’Or awards ceremony in Zurich

THREE AND EASY ... Lionel Messi has won the past three Ballon d'Or awards
THREE AND EASY … Lionel Messi has won the past three Ballon d’Or awards

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