RIO DE JANEIRO - FIFA awarded Lionel Messi the 'Golden Ball' as the top player of the World Cup on Sunday after the Argentina captain led his side to the final at the Maracana where they lost to Germany 1-0 in extra time.
The four-times world player of the year had a quiet game by his standards against Germany but scored four of his team's six goals in the group stage.
He also set up Angel di Maria's winner in the last 16 against Switzerland and shouldered the burden of slotting home Argentina's first penalty in their shootout win over the Netherlands in the semi-finals.
Messi also won four successive man-of-the-match awards against Bosnia, Iran, Argentina and Switzerland.
While some pundits thought Messi looked jaded after the group stage and did not influence his team as much, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said he was a deserving winner. "I think that Lionel is already in the Olympus of the great ones some time ago," Sabella told reporters. "Yes, I think he deserved it. He played a great World Cup to get us where he did. "I think it's very deserved." Germany forward Thomas Mueller was runner-up to Messi and Dutch winger Arjen Robben was third.