Lionel Messi Secures Eighth Ballon d'Or Title
Argentinian national team captain Lionel Messi's exceptional season reached its peak on Monday night as he clinched the Ballon d'Or title, marking his record eighth win as the best player in the world.
He outperformed Norway's Erling Haaland, who, along with Manchester City, secured the UEFA Player of the Year award and achieved the remarkable treble – winning the English Premier League, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League titles last season.
Messi, now with Inter Miami in the USA, previously won the award in 2021. He played a key role in Argentina's victory, securing their first World Cup title in 36 years by defeating defending champions France in the final at Qatar's Lusail Stadium last year.
At 36 years old, Messi boasts three more Ballon d'Or titles than his closest competitor, Cristiano Ronaldo, who won his last of five trophies in 2017. Messi has achieved a record 14 top-three finishes and ended as the runner-up five times.
“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,”Messi commented upon receiving the award
“All of them (Ballon d’Or awards) are special for different reasons. I’m happy to get the recognition that I’m getting thanks to what we’ve achieved with the national team,” Messi told Reuters.
“We’d been aiming for this (World Cup) title for so many years and that makes winning it even more special,” he said.
When asked about his participation in the 2026 World Cup, Messi expressed that he was not thinking about it and preferred to take his career day by day, focusing on the upcoming Copa America in the USA. Earlier, Messi's World Cup-winning teammate, Emiliano Martinez, received the Lev Yashin Award for the world's best goalkeeper, while Spain's Women's World Cup winner and Barcelona midfielder, Aitana Bonmati, secured the women's Ballon d'Or.
Messi, who previously won four Ballon d'Or titles consecutively from 2009 to 2012, had come second to Haaland at the UEFA Awards in August. Haaland, the 23-year-old Norwegian prodigy, was a strong contender for this year's Ballon d'Or, having scored 52 goals in 53 matches across all competitions last season.
However, Argentina's remarkable performance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar played a pivotal role in Messi clinching the prestigious award. During the tournament, Messi earned the Golden Ball for the best overall player and the Silver Boot for his impressive tally of seven goals and three assists, ultimately giving him the edge over the Norwegian contender.