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marta_fifa_poy09Brazil’s Marta captured soccer’s World Player of the Year award for the fourth year in a row. The 23-year-old playmaker beat teammate Cristiane, Kelly Smith of England, and Germans Birgit Prinz and Inka Grings.

“I’m really surprised,” Marta said of winning the award again. Tearful but happy she described the accolade as “a landmark in my career and in my life”.

She was honored at the FIFA World Player Gala, during which former and current soccer stars and celebrities made appearances and Italian pop star Laura Pausini performed.

When asked how it felt to hear her name called once again, the 23-year-old replied, “It’s incredible. You can never prepare what you’re going to say and I just came out with the first words that came into my head.”

The prestigious FIFA award is voted for by the coaches and captains of each national side. With this year’s win, Marta becomes the record winner of the honor awarded by football’s world ruling body.

The dynamic striker, widely regarded as the best female to play the game, was a favorite last season in the revamped U.S Women’s Professional Soccer League, where she won the Golden Boot and was elected league MVP with the Los Angeles Sol.

American Mia Hamm won the inaugural women’s award in 2001, winning again in 2002.

Germany’s Birgit Prinz then picked up the award three years in a row from 2003-2005.

The men’s award when to Lionel Messi who added FIFA’s World Player of the Year award to his growing list of accolades, completing a nearly perfect campaign in which his club won an unprecedented trio of Spanish and European titles.

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