(CNN) -- Lionel Messi's coronation as the FIFA World Player of the Year has been praised by his fellow-professionals, as the Argentine playmaker was handed his award at a star-studded gala ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Barcelona star won three times as many votes as second-placed Cristiano Ronaldo, the 2008 winner, from the coaches and captains of men's and women's national teams -- completing a stunning year for the 22-year-old.
"Messi is an incredible player," Chelsea and England captain John Terry told CNN. "He is an absolute nightmare to play against -- so thankfully I don't have to play against him very often.
"He really has got some amazing ability and there are only a couple of players in the world who can do the things that Messi does.
"Good luck to him on the award, he deserves it."
Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard, who like England compatriot Terry was named in the FIFA World XI for 2009, also believes Messi was a worthy winner.
"He certainly got my vote. Messi is a genius, a magician on the pitch who can do special things with a football. He deserves the award and I am very pleased for him.
"On current form, over the past 12 months, he is certainly a worthy winner."
Former French international David Ginola, like Messi a player who could do magical things with a football, also believes the Argentine was a worthy winner.
Speaking exclusively to CNN, Ginola said: "Messi has been the top player of 2009. He really is a player that you want to pay money to go and watch.
"He has so many talents, so many qualities and every time I have seen Barcelona play, he has been a delight to watch.
"When Messi gets the ball you expect him to do something special and he deserves the award as he is always providing something special on the pitch.
"It is a dream to watch a player like him, so thank god in the 21st century we have a player like him who can deliver such quality."