A tearful Cristiano Ronaldo picked up the FIFA Ballon d'Or for a second time after being named the world's greatest footballer at a ceremony in Zurich.
The Real Madrid forward scored a staggering 69 goals in 59 matches during 2013 and helped Portugal secure their place in next year's World Cup finals by scoring all four goals in their 4-2 aggregate play-off victory over Sweden.
Ronaldo, who ended Lionel Messi's four-year domination of the honour, polled 1,365 points in the voting, 160 ahead of Barcelona forward Messi with Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery third on 1,127.
After picking up the award, an emotional Ronaldo, who was previously honoured in 2008, said: "I have no words to describe this moment. Thanks to all of my team-mates at Real Madrid and the national team.
"Without all of their efforts this would not have been possible. I am very happy, it is very difficult to win this award.
"Everybody that has been involved with me on a personal level I have to thank. My partner, my friends, my son. It is a tremendously emotional moment."
On his rivalry with Messi, the 28-year-old added: "I have a very professional relationship with Messi, he's a player I admire.
"I'm happy to compete with the best. I'm going to try win things with Madrid and the national team, and I hope to be here again next year and win."
Messi, the only player to win the award on four consecutive occasions, said: "I want to congratulate Cristiano because he was the winner and deservedly so.
"I think it was a good year for the three of us and that's why we were there. I have nothing to complain about or make any excuses."
Ribery helped Bayern to an unprecedent treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup, and UEFA president Michel Platini was stunned his compatriot missed out on the award.
Platini, who won the Ballon d'Or three times, said: "I am very disappointed for Franck. Next year we will return and it will be Messi-Ronaldo, in two years' time the same and three years' time ditto.
"I am disappointed because for 50 years the Ballon d'Or took into account results and trophies on the pitch. Here we are talking about the global value of players and that poses a problem."
But there was some consolation for Bayern when Jupp Heynckes, who led them to their treble success before retiring, was named coach of the year.
Pele's place in football history was also recognised after he won the inaugural Ballon d'Or Prix d'Honneur award.
The Brazilian master was ineligible for the award during his playing career, which at the time was limited to players plying their trade in Europe.
FIFA inaugurated the world footballer of the year award in 1991 and, with world football's governing body amalgamating their award with the Ballon d'or in 2010, the decision was made to honour Pele.
And Nadine Angerer picked up the award for Women's Player of the Year for her part in Germany's 2013 European Championship triumph.
The 35-year-old saved two penalties in the final in July and was named player of the match following her side's 1-0 victory over Norway.
Silvia Neid, the coach of the German national side, was named the women's coach of the year while the Fair Play award went to the Afghanistan football federation for their work in 'opening up football to a wider audience'.
The Ferenc Puskas award for best goal of the year went to Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for the sensational 40-yard bicycle kick he produced in the 4-2 friendly defeat of England in November 2012, a game in which he scored all of Sweden's goals.
Meanwhile, Sky Sports' Spanish expert Guillem Balague says changing image perceptions may have helped Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or for the second time ahead of Messi.
Balague said: "Runner-up to the little Argentinian for three out of the last four years, Ronaldo's greatness as a superstar player has never been in question. But in these days of high profile image requirements that go beyond just the game, CR7 always seemed to find himself unfairly cast as the villain to the hero that has been the squeaky clean Messi.
"Now the balance of the public's perceptions looks to be changing. It feels like the world has gone a bit tired of the same face at the top of the chain.
"Franck Ribery said on Sunday that no matter who won, Messi should be considered the best player in the world and not many will argue with that, but it feels like everything has been allowed to tarnish the image of Messi in the last few months.
"The media picture of villain and heroes is finally disappearing - they should both be considered heroes.
"What is certain however is that Ronaldo seems to have been working on the building of a more user-friendly, less arrogant image than that of the pouting, strutting diva he has been perceived as by so many."
Ronaldo, Messi and Ribery were also included in the FIFPRO team of the year, which was dominated by Real, Barcelona and Bayern, and also featured two players from Paris St Germain.
There were five British players in the running for selection, but no-one made the final XI.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, Everton left-back Leighton Baines and Gareth Bale, who is now at Real Madrid, had all been nominated.
FIFPRO team of the Year: Manuel Neuer (B Munich); Phillip Lahm (B Munich), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Thiago Silva (PSG), Dani Alves (Barcelona); Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xavi (Barcelona), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich); Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG), Lionel Messi (Barcelona)