Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or on Monday, while the United States’ Megan Rapinoe won the women’s prize after leading her country to World Cup glory earlier this year.
The Barcelona forward won the men’s award, beating Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk into second place. Five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo came third at the awards ceremony at the Chatelet Theater in Paris.
It is the sixth time Messi has won the accolade, arguably football’s top individual award, but the first since 2015. He also won it in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
“It is 10 years since I won my first Ballon d’Or here in Paris and I remember coming here with my three brothers, I was 22 and it was all unthinkable for me what I was going through,” the Argentinian said.
“Now ten years on this is my sixth, in a very different time, very special in my personal life with my wife and three children.”
Messi also had a warning for any of his rivals thinking his days at football’s top table maybe numbered. “I am aware of the age I have but I hope I have several years left to keep enjoying my football and doing this.”
Winning this year’s Ballon d’Or may come as a surprise to some, having only added a La Liga title to his vast collection of winners’ medals in 2019, whereas Virgil van Dijk and his Liverpool teammates Sadio Mane, who came fourth, and Mohamed Salah, who came fifth, won European club football’s most prestigious trophy in 2019 — the Champions League.
Messi did not enjoy the best of summers either, failing to win the Copa America and getting sent off in the third-place match against Chile. Messi subsequently accused the South American soccer federation, CONMEBOL, of “corruption,” receiving a three-month ban from international football for his remarks.