SPORTS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Lionel Messi Wins BIG Award: FIFA World Player Of The Year

FIFA today announced Lionel Messi as its World Player of the Year.

The Barcelona star and Argentine forward is just 22 years old and guided Barcelona to a Club World Cup on Saturday.

Messi said of the honor, "A magnificent year for me and Barca has ended in the best way."

Last year's winner Cristiano Ronaldo was denied a repeat victory, finishing in second. Messi won by more than 700 votes out of more than 1,500 ballots.

Messi is the first Argentine to win the award, which debuted in 1991, per BBC.

More from the AP:

ZURICH — Lionel Messi added FIFA's World Player of the Year award to his growing list of accolades Monday, completing a nearly perfect campaign in which his club won an unprecedented trio of Spanish and European titles.

Messi received the award at a gala ceremony in Zurich, easily outdistancing the last two winners – Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka – along with his Barcelona teammates Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta in voting among national team captains and coaches.

Messi also received the Ballon D'Or as the best player in Europe after FC Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup and the Champions League. He sealed the team's first Club World Cup on Saturday with an extra-time goal to beat Estudiantes 2-1.

All that's missing from the 22-year-old Argentine's resume is a World Cup title.