Messi honoured to be considered amongst the greats

Argentina captain Lionel Messi won a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world on Monday, beating Norway’s UEFA player of the year and treble winner Erling Haaland of Manchester City to the prestigious prize.

Inter Miami’s Messi, who last won the award in 2021, played a pivotal role in guiding Argentina to their first World Cup title in 36 years when they beat defending champions France in the final last year.

“The truth is that nothing has been thought of, nor talked about. It would be good to be able to do it. To be able to share it once with the people of Argentina, because as I said, this is a prize for the whole Argentinean national team and for all the Argentinean people, because of what I achieved, and for what we did in the World Cup,” Messi said.

“I always showed it and shared it in my clubs, especially in Barcelona, which I was lucky to have shared a lot with, and it would be nice to be able to do it with the Argentine people too, because I think it is an award for everyone. But there is nothing spoken or anything,” he added.

The 36-year-old is now three Ballons d’Or clear of rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the last of his five trophies in 2017. Messi has now finished among the top three a record 14 times in total, finishing runner-up on five occasions.

Earlier, Messi’s World Cup-winning team mate 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.

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.