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international Lionel Messi said Tuesday he was delighted with the emphatic nature of his Ballon d'Or win.
The Barcelona striker received the biggest percentage of votes since the award for the European player of the year was created in 1956.
"I'm happy to have won the prize and on top of it all by a wide majority. It is really important and beautiful to win it this way," he told a news conference after a morning training session here.
The 22-year-old, whom Cristiano Ronaldo beat into second place last season for the accolade, easily saw off the Portuguese striker this year by 473 points to 233. His Barca teammate Xavi Hernandez finished third with 170.
He also becomes the first Argentine winner of the award decided by a panel of journalists and soccer officials in a vote organised by France Football magazine.
"I'm really happy as well to be the first Argentine player to win the prize. But I have to say that if the existing rules were in place years ago, Maradona would have won it," he added.
The prize was restricted to European footballers until 1995 when the rules where changed to allow players from the rest of the world to be eligible if they played for a European club.
Argentina-born Alfredo Di Stefano won in 1957 and 1959 while at Real Madrid but he had acquired Spanish citizenship by that time while Argentine-born Omar Sivori took the prize in 1961 after he acquired Italian citizenship.
"This prize is a gift for him as well as for the rest of the team. He is a fair winner. He is a player with another level," said Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola, adding Messi was "resistant, fast, a scorer".
Messi helped Barcelona win the treble of Champions League, the Spanish championship and Spanish Cup last season with his trademark scamperign runs off the wing and surges across the area.
He was the top scorer in last year's Champions League with nine goals, including a header in the 2-0 final defeat of Manchester United in Rome.
Messi said he hoped he hoped his form would not dip as has happened with several past winners of the Ballon d'Or after they won the prestigious prize.
"I hope that that does not happen to me and I am confident of maintaining my level and that Barcelona will maintain its form, which is the most important of all," he said.
In September he signed a two-year contract extension which will keep him at the club until 2016. The deal increased his buy-out clause to 250 million euros from 150 million euros.
Spanish media have reported that Messi will earn over 10 million euros a year after tax under the new deal, making him the club's highest-paid player.
Messi joined the Catalan giants as a youth team player from Newell's Old Boys which is based in Rosario, Argentina at the age of 13. Facts: Lionel Messi
"I?ve never seen anyone with such humility and good taste for playing football who accepts to play where he?s told without ever protesting and with such happiness and love for the club," the current coordinator of Barcelona's youth football, Albert Benaiges, told the club's television station.