It couldn’t be any other way. Lionel Messi has had a spectacular year. He was instrumental in helping Barcelona win the Spanish Cup and European League Championship, and led Argentina to the Copa America final. With 52 goals in 61 matches, the Argentine deserved every vote he got to be named for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award as footballer of the year in Monday’s ceremony.

Messi has won four out of seven best football player awards in previous years, with arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo at three. Messi reclaimed the top spot this year from the Real Madrid star who had been occupying it for the last two years. The 28-year-old’s family was in the audience to watch him receive the hard-earned honour.

A panel of team coaches, captains and media reps from all over the world voted for the nominees for this year. Messi won by a wide margin over his closest rivals, Ronaldo and Barca teammate Neymar. His tally was 41.33% of the total votes, with Cristiano Ronaldo bagging 27.76% and Neymar limping behind with 7.86%.

For Messi, the award has added to the new year happiness that began with a superb hat-trick for Barcelona in Saturday’s 4-0 victory against Granada at Camp Nou. With the Ballon d’Or back in his possession, he couldn’t ask for a better start to 2016!