It was an emotional night for World Cup Star Lionel Messi as he was handed the Ballon d’Or for the 8th time in his career making him the player who has won the award many times. Messi grabbed the eighth victory beating his closest competitor Erling Haaland who had a marvelous season at Man City winning a treble for the team.
The Inter Miami player couldn’t hide his joy as he was pronounced the winner of the award. Messi had led his country to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 12 months earlier, the player had won Copa America. During the World Cup, Messi was named the best player, a position he also claimed in 2014.
Messi was presented with the award by his MLS trailblazer David Beckham who was the man of the moment. He was also assured of a celebration once he gets back to Miami. In his acceptance speech, Messi had the following.
“I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved,” Messi said after receiving his award. “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. All of them [Ballon d’Or awards] are special for different reasons.”
It was a moment to remember as Messi also celebrated his icon Diego Maradona who passed on and would have been 63 on the d-day. He noted “Wherever you are, this is also for you. Happy birthday, Diego.”
He also thanked the competitors including Kylian and Haaland “Hats off to Kylian, Erling and Kevin – you guys are very young and you’ve achieved so much already.”
On the stage, the player was joined by his three children who celebrated their father for his outstanding achievements.
Other Winners In the Ceremony
The day also saw other players get rewarded for outstanding performance. In the feminine category, Spains Bonmati won the award succeeding Alexia Putellas who won the 2021/22 Ballon d’Or Feminin. The 25-year-old led Spain into their World Cup title. The player also helped Barcelona win the women’s La Liga. After winning the trophy, Bonmati said,
“I’m very proud to win this Ballon d’Or tonight. It’s an individual prize but football is a team sport, so I’d like to extend this prize to my teammates and staff at Barcelona, and my international teammates as well. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Sam Kerr and Salma Paralluelo came second and third respectively.
In the other category, Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid, England) won the Kopa Trophy for the best male U-21 player. The player has been key for his team and clubs. The Yachine Trophy for the best male goalkeeper was grabbed by the World Cup winner Emiliano Martínez (Aston Villa, Argentina).
Gerd Müller Trophy for the highest-scoring male striker went to the second-placed Ballon d’Or Erling Haaland who plays for Manchester City and Norway. The Sócrates Award to acknowledge humanitarian work was given to Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid and Brazil.
Finally, the Club of the Year awards went to Manchester City and FC Barcelona Femení clubs.