Zambia's Christopher Katongo wins the 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year award.
The 30-year-old beat off competition from Demba Ba, Didier Drogba, Younes Belhanda and Yaya Toure to become the first winner from southern Africa in the history of the award.
He told BBC Sport in an inetrview: "This is a fantastic moment for me. I thank the people who voted for me. It is something I will never forget in my career."
"This means a lot for the young people and the young players who look up to me. I could not have achieved this without the support of my team-mates."
The shortlist for the award was drawn up by football experts from every country in Africa, who based their choices on players' skill, technical ability, teamwork, consistency and fair play.
And a record number of people nominated their favourite online or by text message with just over 40% of the votes going to Katongo, who plays his club football in China for Henan Construction.
While all the players on the shortlist have enjoyed a superb year, with four of the players picking up silverware, it is Katongo whose performances and achievements have been considered by African football fans to be the greatest.
"I think the things that they (the fans) like about me is my discipline and that I am the kind of player who can fail one day but pull up his socks and keep going. I think that is why they voted for me," added Katongo.
"To be among the top players who have won this award, I will go to sleep with a smile on my face.
"I did my best and the people have spoken. That's the beauty of this award."
Katongo, who is also a soldier in his home country, was inspirational as he led Zambia to their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February.
He scored three goals en route to the final of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and then struck a successful penalty in an 8-7 shoot-out victory over favourites Ivory Coast to lift the trophy in Libreville.
It was an emotional moment for Zambia, who had suffered a tragic air disaster 19 years previously, when a plane carrying most of the national team crashed when only 500m offshore from Libreville, killing all 25 passengers and five crew.
Seven months after leading Zambia to glory Katongo was again his country's talisman, this time in a 2013 Nations Cup qualifying tie when he scored the only goal of the game in his side's final-round first leg match against Uganda.