Yearender: Triumphs of Spain, Lionel Messi golden hallmarks of 2012
But the year was also marred by tragedy and death in Egypt and the Netherlands and a worrying escalation of racism in Europe.
It was a year too when the soccer world shifted on its axis and finally spun away from its 19th century roots when 21st century goalline technology, officially sanctioned by world governing body FIFA, was used for the first time in December's Club World Cup finals in Japan.
That tournament, which ended on Sunday, saw Corinthians of Brazil crowned as the best club team in the world - an accolade most people would agree rightfully belongs to Barcelona.
But in one of the great upsets of the year, Barcelona failed to win the Champions League which seemed pre-ordained for them when they somehow lost to Chelsea on aggregate in the semi-finals after Messi, proving he was only human after all, missed a penalty in the second leg.
He had however scored 90 goals with two weeks of the year remaining, beating West Germany's former striker Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for goals scored in a calendar year.
Chelsea, who finished sixth in the Premier League in May, went on to Munich for the Champions League final.
Written off by virtually all of Europe's media before they played Barcelona, they again confounded the critics by beating Bayern Munich on penalties in their own stadium to become the first London