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On this day in 2012, Barcelona striker Lionel Messi became the first footballer in history to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award four times in a row, easily outpacing Cristiano Ronaldo and teammate Andres Iniesta in voting.

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Interestingly, during Messi’s four-year reign, Ronaldo placed second in the voting three times and Barcelona teammate Xavi placed third three times.


2012 was a record-setting year for Messi. Just two weeks after scoring four goals against Valencia in a La Liga match, he found the back of the net five times against Bayer Leverkusen, a record in Champions League play.

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Messi finished the year with a Guinness World Record 91 goals in all competitions for Barcelona and Argentina. Along the way, he became Barca’s all-time top goalscorer at just 24 years of age when he broke Cesar Rodriguez’s 57-year-old mark of 232 goals.


Messi has picked up two more Ballon d’Or awards since his four-in-a-row streak — one in 2015 and another in 2019. His six wins is one more than Ronaldo’s total (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) and double the number won by Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985), Johan Cruyff (1971, 1973, 1974) and Marco van Basten (1988, 1989, 1992).