AC Milan and Brazil playmaker Kaka was awarded the 2007 Ballon d'Or by French magazine France Football on Sunday.
Kaka, who won the Champions League with Milan last season, beat Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Barcelona's Lionel Messi of Argentina, who were second and third respectively.
Until last year, when Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro won the award after leading his side to World Cup glory in Germany, 52 European journalists voted for a player from a European club.
For this year's award, 96 journalists from around the world voted and the shortlist of 50 players featured players based in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, the United States and Qatar.
"The only way you can win this award is being part of a team of fighters. So I thank my team mates, my coach and also my team mates in the Selecao," Kaka told French television channel TF1.
"Also, thank you to all those who have been beside me throughout my career."
The elegant Kaka is already the winner of the FIFPro world Player of the Year and UEFA European Club Player of the Year awards and is the big favourite for FIFA's World Player of the Year award to be announced later this month.
His 10 goals in guiding Milan to their seventh European Cup triumph in May set up this flurry of awards in a year without a World Cup or European championship.
Following is a list of winners of the Ballon d'Or award:
1956 - Stanley Matthews (England)
1957 - Alfredo di Stefano (Spain)
1958 - Raymond Kopa (France)
1959 - Alfredo di Stefano (Spain)
1960 - Luis Suarez (Spain)
1961 - Omar Sivori (Italy)
1962 - Josef Masopust (Czechoslovakia)
1963 - Lev Yashin (Soviet Union)
1964 - Denis Law (Scotland)
1965 - Eusebio (Portugal)
1966 - Bobby Charlton (England)
1967 - Florian Albert (Hungary)
1968 - George Best (Northern Ireland)
1969 - Gianni Rivera (Italy)
1970 - Gerd Mueller (West Germany)
1971 - Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
1972 - Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
1973 - Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
1974 - Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
1975 - Oleg Blokhin (Soviet Union)
1976 - Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)
1977 - Allan Simonsen (Denmark)
1978 - Kevin Keegan (England)
1979 - Kevin Keegan (England)
1980 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany)
1981 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany)
1982 - Paolo Rossi (Italy)
1983 - Michel Platini (France)
1984 - Michel Platini (France)
1985 - Michel Platini (France)
1986 - Igor Belanov (Soviet Union)
1987 - Ruud Gullit (Netherlands)
1988 - Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
1989 - Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
1990 - Lothar Matthaeus (Germany)
1991 - Jean-Pierre Papin (France)
1992 - Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
1993 - Roberto Baggio (Italy)
1994 - Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria)
1995 - George Weah (Liberia)
1996 - Matthias Sammer (Germany)
1997 - Ronaldo (Brazil)
1998 - Zinedine Zidane (France)
1999 - Rivaldo (Brazil)
2000 - Luis Figo (Portugal)
2001 - Michael Owen (England)
2002 - Ronaldo (Brazil)
2003 - Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic)
2004 - Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)
2005 - Ronaldinho (Brazil)
2006 - Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)
2007 - Kaka (Brazil)