Lionel Messi adjudged world’s best player again, wins record eighth Ballon d'Or title

Lionel Messi adjudged world’s best player again, wins record eighth Ballon d'Or title

QLNews
By QLNews

Argentinian national team captain Lionel Messi’s dream season culminated on Monday night with him winning the Ballon d’Or title — for the best player in the world — for a record eighth time.

He beat back the challenge from Norway’s Erling Haaland, who with Manchester City won the UEFA Player of the Year award as well as the dream treble — English Premier League, FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League titles — last season.

Messi, who currently plays for USA’s Inter Miami, last won the award in 2021. The well-loved player played a pivotal role in helping Argentina win their first World Cup title in 36 years by defeating defending champions France in the final at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar last year.

The 36-year-old now has three Ballons d'Or titles more than his nearest rival Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese icon won the last of his five trophies in 2017. Messi has finished among the top three a record 14 times, finishing as runner-up five times.

“I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved. The fortune I’ve had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. It’s nice to win these individual trophies. To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing,” Messi said after accepting the award.

“All of them (Ballon d’Or awards) are special for different reasons. I’m happy to get the recognition that I’m getting thanks to what we’ve achieved with the national team,” Messi told Reuters.

“We’d been aiming for this (World Cup) title for so many years and that makes winning it even more special,” he said.

Messi, when asked if he would play in the 2026 World Cup, said he wasn’t thinking about it.

“I’ll enjoy my career day by day. There will first be the Copa America in the USA next year. I don’t think about the next World Cup,” he said.

Earlier, Messi’s World Cup-winning teammate Emiliano Martinez won the Lev Yashin Award for the world’s best goalkeeper. Spain’s Women's World Cup winner and Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati won the women’s Ballon d’Or.

Messi, who won four Ballon d’Or titles in a row from 2009 to 2012, had finished second to Haaland at the UEFA Awards in August.

Norwegian Haaland, 23, is a prodigious talent and was one of the firm favourites to win the Ballon d’Or this year. He had scored 52 goals in 53 matches in all competitions last season.

But Argentina’s magical run at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, where Messi earned the Golden Ball for best overall player and Silver Boot (seven goals and three assists), helped him pip the Norwegian to the award.

The World Cup had been the only major title missing from Messi’s trophy cabinet and he helped them make amends for losing the 2014 final to Germany.

Messi also won the French Ligue 1 title with Paris St Germain before moving to Inter Miami, where he helped the Major League Soccer side win the Leagues Cup — their first major trophy.

Real Madrid and England midfielder Jude Bellingham won the Kopa Trophy for the best Under-21 player, while club team-mate Vinicius Jr was awarded the Socrates Award for his humanitarian work off the pitch.

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