Ed Sheeran is the musical artist of the decade. It is not something that is up for debate, the Official Chart Company has decreed it. The dishevelled flannel-wearing troubadour wormed his way onto our radios – and, eventually, into our football stadiums – and did so in such unassuming and charming way that none of us really knew it was happening. Because, when you think about it, of course Ed Sheeran is the artist of the decade. Of course he bloody is. He might not be your favourite, or mine, but we all underestimated him and now he is laughing at us all the way to the bank.

What makes him artist of the decade?

Cold hard stats. The Suffolk singer-songwriter had the most No 1s across the albums and singles chart in the 2010s, with 12. His albums have spent 41 weeks at the top in total and his singles 38, making a total of 79 weeks – more than any other artist.

No other artist meanwhile has spent more time in the Top 40 singles chart than Sheeran’s combined 572 weeks. His song Shape of You was named the biggest song of the decade, reaching 4.3m combined sales. Thinking Out Loud was at No 3 in the list and Perfect at No 5.

It cherry on top of a number of record-breaking stats for Sheeran, who staged the world’s highest-grossing tour ever this year - racking up £558m ($775m), overtaking a tally previously set by U2 in 2011. The star's latest accolade also comes a week after Spotify named him the UK's most-streamed artist of the 2010s.

Was anyone else in the running?

Sheeran had to defer to Adele in the list of the biggest albums of the decade. Her LPs 21 and 25 take the decade’s top two slots; Sheeran’s X and Divide arrive at three and four. Michael Bublé’s seasonal album Christmas rounds out the Top 5 and Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman is also in the mix.

Adele – who is cut from the same cloth as Sheeran in the sense that she seems like she too would be a good laugh down the pub – shifted 5.17 million copies of her second album 21. It debuted at number one and spent 23 weeks at the top of the album charts. Her follow up 25 spent 13 weeks at the top and was crowned the UK’s fastest-selling album to date.

Why do we need an artist of the decade?

Sheeran became a pop superstar at a time when no one was really selling albums. Or singles. Or anything, really. "His catalogue of achievements since then are genuinely remarkable,” Martin Talbot, chief executive of the UK pop charts, said. “Today, he is firmly established among the highest level of global music superstars.”

Why do people hate Ed Sheeran?

It comes with the territory. While it was never particularly cool to count Sheeran in your CD collection, as his popularity skyrocketed, it certainly become cool to hate him. His maudlin anthems are a little bland, sure, but if that disqualified you from the official UK Charts, we would barely have a top 10.

"I’ve actually never felt this much hate in my life, but also I’ve never felt this much adoration," he told Q Magazine last year. "People either f******* hate me and want me to die and never make music again or people think I’m the second coming."