It's finally official: Lionel Messi is the best player in the world.
Earlier this month the diminutive Barcelona forward won the prestigious Ballon d'Or for the European Footballer of the Year by the biggest percentage of votes since it was created in 1956 and on Monday night he was deservedly crowned the FIFA World Player of the Year.
The 22-year-old was runner-up to AC Milan's Kaka in 2007 and second to Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008, but last season's unprecedented treble of the UEFA Champions League, Spanish league title and Copa del Rey meant there could be only one winner in 2009.
Although Ronaldo and Kaka, who both now play for Real Madrid, were also on FIFA's final five-man shortlist, such was the dominance and breath-taking beauty of Barcelona's football this past year that the biggest challenge to Messi came from Blaugrana team-mates Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
A case could be made for any of the Catalan club's representatives to be crowned winner, but the FIFA gong is an award for individual brilliance and while Xavi and Iniesta's intricate and imaginative passing in midfield provides the platform for team-mates to dazzle, Messi is the figure that opponents fear.
The 2009 Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United was billed as Messi v Ronaldo - we all know who won that one. The little Argentinian outclassed Ronaldo, even scoring a rare header, as Barcelona won 2-0 in Rome and Messi confirmed he was ready to succeed his opponent as the World Player of the Year.
On Saturday, Messi scored the winner, in extra-time, as Barca scooped the FIFA Club World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Estudiantes and if we include a few other glorified baubles, such as the European and Spanish Super Cups, it makes a remarkable haul of six trophies for 2009.
Messi is the key player in this year's most successful team and based on that alone it would be difficult to overlook the left-footed forward. Add in the fact that he scored 23 goals in 27 Primera Division starts last season and the statistics back up the FIFA award.
But most impressive of all is that when you strip away all the facts and figures Messi still stands out an artist amongst draughtsmen.
The image of the diminutive forward cutting in from the left-flank and slaloming through an impossible amount of defenders on his way to goal is one of the greatest in football. When the Argentinian has the ball at his feet there is an air of expectation and apprehension that very few footballers, and no amount of statistics, can invoke.
Messi has already been burdened with the labelled of the 'new Maradona'. The Argentina international still has a long way to go to reach those lofty heights but he is yet to falter as all of the previous heirs to El Diego's throne have done.
The FIFA World Player of the Year award is a step on the road to emulating the Argentina legend and is just reward for a humble player who always extols the virtues of the team rather than his own remarkable skills.