AC Milan's Kaka has been voted the European Footballer of the Year, collecting the Ballon d'Or award in France this morning.
The Brazilian international told TF1: "This award crowns an outstanding year for me. I thank God for this prize, which is the biggest any player can win, and also my wife and my parents. But to get a trophy like this, you also need to have a winning team around you, that's essential – so I'm grateful to Milan and to Brazil."
The 25-year-old helped Milan win the Champions League last season, scoring a campaign-best ten goals for the Serie A giants en route to their final victory against Liverpool in Athens.
"This is fully deserved," said Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti. "Not just for his game but also for his image. He is a great person."
He claimed 444 points in the vote for the award, with Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United (277) and Lionel Messi of Barcelona (255) the next best nominees.
The Ballon d'Or, which in 2006 went to Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro, was this year decided by a worldwide representation of 96 journalists, rather than by the previous poll of European football journalists.
In October Kaka was named FIFPro World Player of the Year, voted for by 45,000 members of the players' union, and he is also in the running for the FIFA World Player of the Year award along with Ronaldo and Messi later this month.
The European Footballer of the Year competition continues to be organised by France Football magazine, which inaugurated the award in 1956.
Completing the list of this year's top players were: Didier Drogba, Andrea Pirlo, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cesc Fabregas, Robinho, Francesco Totti, Frederic Kanouté, Ronaldinho, Steven Gerrard, Juan Roman Riquelme, Daniel Alves, Filippo Inzaghi, Franck Ribery, Paolo Maldini, Gianluigi Buffon, Petr Cech, Gennaro Gattuso, Thierry Henry, and Clarence Seedorf.