Lionel Messi, the captain of Argentina, has won a historic eighth Ballon d’Or for being the best player in the world. He beat Erling Haaland, the UEFA player of the year and a Treble winner with Manchester City, to receive this prestigious award. Messi, who plays for Inter Miami, played a crucial role in leading Argentina to their first World Cup victory in 36 years by defeating defending champions France in the final last year.
At 36 years old, Messi now has three more Ballons d’Or than his rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who last won the award in 2017. He has been among the top three players a record 14 times and has finished as the runner-up five times.
In response to winning the award, Messi expressed his gratitude for the career he has had and the opportunities he has had to play for some of the best teams in the world. He emphasized the importance of winning the Copa America and the World Cup and how special it is to have achieved these milestones.
Messi also mentioned that all of his Ballon d’Or awards are special to him for different reasons. He expressed his happiness in receiving recognition for his achievements with the national team and described the World Cup victory as something they had been aiming for for many years.
When asked about his plans for the future and if he would continue until the 2026 World Cup, Messi stated that he doesn’t think about it and instead focuses on enjoying his career day by day. He mentioned the upcoming Copa America in the United States in 2024 but did not elaborate on his thoughts regarding the World Cup.
Alongside Messi, his World Cup-winning teammate Emiliano Martinez won the Lev Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper, and Aitana Bonmati, a Women’s World Cup winner and Barcelona midfielder, won the women’s Ballon d’Or.
Messi, who won his first Ballon d’Or in 2009 and had a streak of winning four in a row until 2012, came second to Haaland at the UEFA awards in August. However, his impressive performance at the World Cup, where he received the Golden Ball and Silver Boot, helped him secure the Ballon d’Or over Haaland.
Lastly, it is worth noting that Messi won the Ligue 1 title with Paris St Germain before moving to Inter Miami, where he contributed to their victory in the Leagues Cup, their first major trophy. Jude Bellingham from Real Madrid and England won the Kopa Trophy for the best Under-21 player, and Vinicius Jr., also from Real Madrid, received the Socrates Award for his humanitarian work off the field.