On Monday, Argentina’s national football team captain, Lionel Messi, secured his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or, reaffirming his status as the world’s best player. He clinched the prestigious award ahead of Norway’s Erling Haaland, who was named UEFA Player of the Year and secured a treble with Manchester City.
Messi, now a member of Inter Miami, previously won the Ballon d’Or in 2021 and played a crucial role in leading Argentina to their first World Cup title in 36 years. Their victory came against defending champions France in the World Cup final last year. This eighth Ballon d’Or win for the 36-year-old solidifies his status as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport and places him three trophies ahead of his rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, who last won the award in 2017. Messi has now featured among the top three Ballon d’Or contenders a total of 14 times, finishing as the runner-up on five occasions.
After receiving the award, Messi expressed his gratitude, stating, “I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that 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.”
The Lev Yashin award for the world’s best goalkeeper was given to Messi’s World Cup-winning teammate, Emiliano Martinez. Spain’s Women’s World Cup winner and Barcelona midfielder, Aitana Bonmati, claimed the women’s Ballon d’Or.
Messi, who received his first Ballon d’Or in 2009 and secured four consecutive wins until 2012, finished second to Haaland at the UEFA awards in August. Haaland, at the age of 23, was a strong contender for his first Ballon d’Or, having scored 52 goals in 53 matches across all competitions last season as Manchester City achieved victory in the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup. However, Messi’s remarkable run at the World Cup in Qatar, where he received the Golden Ball for best overall player and the Silver Boot for seven goals and three assists, enabled him to edge out Haaland for the award.
The World Cup had been the only major trophy missing from Messi’s illustrious career. In March, he became only the third player in history to reach 100 international goals. Before transferring to Inter Miami, Messi also claimed the Ligue 1 title with Paris St Germain. There, he contributed to the club’s victory in the Leagues Cup, marking their first major trophy.
Jude Bellingham, a midfielder for Real Madrid and the England national team, secured the Kopa Trophy, which is awarded to the best Under-21 player. His club teammate, Vinicius Jr., was honored with the Socrates Award for his humanitarian efforts outside of football.