Lionel Messi has once again made history by winning the prestigious Ballon d’Or for a record-extending eighth time.
The Argentine superstar triumphed over tough competition, including Erling Haaland, to claim the coveted award. Messi’s remarkable achievement comes after leading his national team to victory in the World Cup held in Qatar last year.
Just a year before his World Cup triumph, Messi had already secured the Copa America title for Argentina. However, it was the World Cup victory that truly solidified his status as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
In his victory speech, Messi paid tribute to his idol, Diego Maradona, on what would have been his 63rd birthday, saying, ‘Wherever you are, this is also for you. Happy birthday, Diego.’
Messi expressed his delight at achieving his dream of winning the World Cup and thanked his teammates and the coaching staff for their contributions.
He also acknowledged the remarkable accomplishments of young talents like Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, and Kevin De Bruyne, who have already achieved so much at such a young age.
During the ceremony, Messi was joined on stage by his three children, symbolizing the importance of family in his career. Reflecting on his journey, he said, ‘I couldn’t imagine having the career I’ve had and everything I’ve achieved, the fortune I’ve had to be part of the best team in history.’
After leaving Barcelona, Messi recently embarked on a new chapter in his career by signing with MLS team Inter Miami.
Despite his move to the United States, Messi has continued to excel, scoring 21 goals in 41 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in his second and final season with the club.
This latest Ballon d’Or victory marks Messi’s third win in the last four years. Last year, Karim Benzema claimed the award, but Messi has now reclaimed the title, possibly for the final time.
His first Ballon d’Or win came 14 years ago when he was still playing for Barcelona, making him the first and only player to win the Golden Ball on four successive occasions.
Erling Haaland, the rising star of Manchester City, was considered Messi’s strongest competitor for the award. Haaland’s extraordinary performances in the Premier League broke numerous records and helped propel his team to a historic treble.
He finished in second place, followed by Kylian Mbappe, the top scorer at the World Cup in Qatar. Kevin De Bruyne, the influential midfielder for Manchester City, secured the fourth position, further highlighting the dominance of Guardiola’s side.
The Ballon d’Or top 30 list featured several other notable players, including Robert Lewandowski, Mohamed Salah, and Harry Kane. It is a testament to the incredible talent and achievements within the world of football.