Inter Miami CF star Lionel Messi has achieved a monumental feat by securing his eighth Ballon d’Or, surpassing all previous records. The 36-year-old football maestro’s remarkable journey to this historic achievement is a testament to his unparalleled skill and dedication.
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Lionel Messi wins Ballon d’Or Award
In an unprecedented turn of events, Messi, now a member of the Major League Soccer (MLS), becomes the first player based in the United States to grasp the coveted Ballon d’Or. Although his triumph is attributed mainly to his exceptional performance with the Argentinian national team in the 2022 World Cup, it’s also a testament to his enduring brilliance on the field.
The Prestigious Award Ceremony
David Beckham, former Manchester United player and co-owner of Inter Miami, had the honor of presenting Messi with the esteemed award at a grand ceremony in Paris. The presentation of this accolade in the heart of football’s capital added another layer of significance to the event.
Erling Haaland: A Worthy Competitor
Erling Haaland, the prolific Manchester City striker who netted an astounding 52 goals last season as the club clinched the Treble in 2022-23, secured the second position in the Ballon d’Or voting. In recognition of his extraordinary achievements, Haaland was awarded the Gerd Muller Trophy for being the best striker of the year.
During his acceptance speech, an emotional Messi expressed his gratitude for his career and the privilege of playing for the world’s best teams. He highlighted the significance of winning individual awards, emphasizing the unique value of each Ballon d’Or he has received throughout his career.
“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,” Messi remarked.
Aitana Bonmatí’s Triumph
Before Messi received his award, Aitana Bonmatí, the talented Barcelona and Spain midfielder, clinched the Ballon d’Or Féminin. Her exceptional performances for club and country, leading Barça to Liga F and Champions League victory and subsequently guiding Spain to World Cup glory, made her a deserving winner.
Other Awards of the Night
The Ballon d’Or Gala also recognized other outstanding individuals in the football world. Emiliano Martinez, Messi’s compatriot and Argentina’s goalkeeper, received the Yashin Trophy for being the best goalkeeper, while England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham was awarded the Kopa Trophy, acknowledging him as the world’s top player under the age of 21.
A Tribute to Diego Maradona
During his speech, Messi took a moment to remember the legendary Diego Maradona, whose birthday fell on the same day. Messi’s heartfelt tribute to Maradona, who passed away in 2020, served as a touching moment, demonstrating his deep love for the game and those who have contributed to its history.
A Legacy of Greatness
Before this historic win, no player had ever secured the Ballon d’Or more times than Messi. His eight Ballon d’Or triumphs now overshadow the five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo and other legends like Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, and Marco van Basten, who are all three-time winners.
Recent Success in the USA
Since joining Inter Miami CF, Messi has made a significant impact. He scored 11 goals in 14 games, helping the franchise secure its first-ever silverware, the Leagues Cup. Despite a few matches missed due to injury, his presence and performance have been invaluable to the team.
The World Cup Glory
However, it was Messi’s exceptional performance in the 2022 World Cup that sealed his eighth Ballon d’Or win. Captaining the Argentinian national team, he played a pivotal role in ending a 36-year wait for the World Cup title. Scoring seven goals and providing three assists, Messi was named the Player of the Tournament. His two goals in the final and penalty shootout against France were pivotal moments in a World Cup that will be remembered as one of the most thrilling in history.
A Legacy Continues
At 36 years and four months old, Lionel Messi has become the second oldest player to ever win the Ballon d’Or, replacing last year’s winner, Karim Benzema. Only the inaugural winner, Stanley Matthews in 1956, was older when he won it at the age of 41.
Messi’s first six Ballons d’Or were achieved during his illustrious career with Barcelona, where he became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer and appearance holder. His seventh Ballon d’Or was secured shortly after joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, following his success with the Argentinian national team in the Copa America. Now, Messi’s eighth Ballon d’Or stands as a testament to his enduring legacy and unwavering commitment to the beautiful game.
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