Lionel Messi Reacts To Winning A Record Eighth Ballon d'Or, Beating Haaland and Mbappe To Claim The Prize

 Argentina megastar, Lionel Messi, won the Ballon d’Or for a record eighth time ahead of Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and France’s Kylian Mbappe, who finished second and third respectively.

Messi who scored 21 goals in 41 appearances last season as Paris Saint-Germain retained the Ligue 1 title before moving to Inter Miami earlier this year.

Since moving to the U.S., he has scored 11 goals in 14 games for Miami, helping the franchise win its first-ever piece of silverware, the Leagues Cup.

However, he missed several matches through injury at the end of the regular MLS season as Gerardo "Tata" Martino's side came up short in their late push for a playoff spot.

The 36-year-old’s triumph comes mostly due to his exploits with Argentina at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where they beat France in the final to be crowned champions for the third time in history.

Haaland, who scored 52 goals for both club and country, as Manchester City won the treble in the 2022/2023 campaign, finished second in the voting and won the Gerd Muller Trophy given to the best striker of the year.

The 23-year-old Norwegian narrowly pipped Mbappe to the prize, after the Frenchman scored 55 times for Paris Saint-Germain and France.

Karim Benzema was the reigning Ballon d'Or holder, but the French striker did not retain the award after finishing 16th in the 2023 edition.

The Argentine spoke on stage after winning his record eighth Ballon d'Or: "Thank you very much, to share this with my national team-mates for what we were able to achieve with the national team. The entire group, the coaching staff, everyone involved. 

"I’m delighted to be here once more to be able to enjoy this moment one more time. "I couldn't imagine having the career I've had and everything 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. All of them [Ballon d'Or awards] are special for different reasons."

"To be able to win the World Cup and really achieve my dream, to share this with all those who were involved."

While on stage after winning the award, Messi was asked whether he has any plans for retirement, responding that he didn't know "how much longer" he would continue playing football.

He finished by wishing the late Argentine legend Diego Armando Maradona a happy birthday. The 1986 World Cup winner, who died on Nov. 22, 2020, would have been 63 on Monday.

"My last mention is for Diego [Maradona]," Messi said. "Today is his birthday. So I would like to remember him from here, surrounded by the best players, coaches and people who love football like he did.

"Wherever you are, Diego, happy birthday. This goes also to you."

Messi is now three wins clear of his closest rival Cristiano Ronaldo atop the list of most Ballons d'Or won, having first earned it in 2009 and then in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021.

His first six Ballons d'Or were won while he played for Barcelona, where he is the club's record goalscorer and appearance holder, while he won it for a seventh time shortly after joining PSG in 2021 following Copa America success with Argentina.

At 36 years and four months old, Messi also becomes 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 aged 41.

Ronaldo who currently plays for Saudi Arabia club side Al-Nassr, last won the award in 2017 while he was still a Real Madrid player.

Most Ballon d'Or Wins:

Lionel Messi: 8

Cristiano Ronaldo: 5

Michel Platini: 3

Johan Cruyff: 3

Marco van Basten: 3

With the era of Messi and Ronaldo now certainly over, the ex-Barcelona man backed Haaland and Mbappe to win the next editions of the award.

“Haaland and Mbappe will win the Ballon d’Or one day,” he said. 

“Erling deserved it very much too, he has won the Premier League, and Champions League while being the top scorer of everything. This award could have been yours today too.

 “I’m sure in the next years you will win it.”

Full Ballon d'Or men's ranking 1-30:

1: Lionel Messi (PSG, Inter Miami & Argentina)

2: Erling Haaland (Man City & Norway)

3: Kylian Mbappe (PSG & France)

4: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City & Belgium)

5: Rodri (Man City & Spain)

6: Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid & Brazil)

7: Julian Alvarez (Man City & Argentina)

8: Victor Osimhen (Napoli & Nigeria)

9: Bernardo Silva (Man City & Portugal)

10: Luka Modric (Real Madrid & Croatia)

11: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool & Egypt)

12: Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona & Poland)

13: Yassine Bounou (Sevilla, Al Hilal & Morocco)

14: Ilkay Gundogan (Man City, Barcelona & Germany)

15: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa & Argentina)

16: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, Al Ittihad & France)

17: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli & Georgia)

18: Jude Bellingham (Dortmund, Real Madrid & England)

19: Harry Kane (Spurs, Bayern Munich & England)

20: Lautaro Martinez (Inter & Argentina)

21: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid & France)

22: Kim Min-jae (Napoli, Bayern Munich & South Korea)

23: Andre Onana (Inter, Man Utd & Cameroon)

24: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal & England)

25: Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig, Man City & Croatia)

26: Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich & Germany)

27: Nicolo Barella (Inter & Italy)

28= Martin Odegaard (Arsenal & Norway)

28= Randal Kolo Muani (PSG & France)

30: Ruben Dias (Man City & Portugal)

Messi and his sons were joined by his fellow Argentine teammates Emi Martinez, who finished 15th, Lautaro Martinez (20th) and Julian Alvarez (seventh).

Meanwhile, prior to Messi receiving his award, Barcelona and Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmatí won the Women's Ballon d'Or after a record-breaking year with club and country. 

She helped Barca Fémini win Liga F and the Champions League last season, before leading Spain to World Cup glory in the past year. 

FC Barcelona Femeni were also named Women’s Club of the Year.

In the other notable award awarded on Monday night, Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior, founder of the Instituto Vini.Jr, was named the winner of the Socrates Award for his charity work in Brazil, while his teammate Jude Bellingham won the 2023 Kopa Trophy as the best U21 player in the world. 

Argentina’s goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez, won the Yachine Trophy Winner for the best goalkeeper.


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