Lionel Messi was the toast of the footballing world last night as he was rewarded for a stunning year in which he helped Barcelona to an unprecedented six trophies by being named FIFA's World Player of the Year.
The Argentina forward, who headed the clinching goal against Manchester United in the Champions League final, also scored on Saturday to secure the Club World Cup for Barcelona against Estudiantes.
The 22-year-old won the award for the first time, beating last year's winner Cristiano Ronaldo, his two clubmates Andres Iniesta and Xavi and Brazil midfielder Kaka.
Messi said: “I'm extremely happy. We've just ended a historic year, a perfect year in which we've won every competition we've played in. We just needed to take this last step and everything has worked out how we wanted. It's amazing.”
The award, which was presented at a glittering awards gala in Zurich, is voted for by the coaches and captains of each national side.
England's John Terry and Steven Gerrard were among the players named last night in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI.
Other Premier League players in the XI were Manchester United defenders Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra and Liverpool striker Fernando Torres.
The XI, voted for by members of the international professional footballers' union FIFPro, were: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), John Terry (Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd), Patrice Evra (Man Utd), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Xavi (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Fernando Torres (Liverpool).
Terry said: “There is no higher accolade than to be voted for by your fellow professionals so we are all very proud.”
Ronaldo won the FIFA Puskas award for the best goal of the 2008/09 season — his long-range thunderbolt for Manchester United against Porto in the Champions League in April.
Brazilian player Marta won the FIFA women's player of the year award for the fourth year in a row.
England's Kelly Smith, who left Arsenal to play in the USA's new Women's Professional Soccer League for Boston Breakers earlier this year, was named in the top five.
The FIFA Fair Play Award was given posthumously to Sir Bobby Robson, who died earlier this year from cancer, for his “outstanding commitment to the values of fair play throughout his career”.
The award was collected by his widow Elsie.