Lionel Messi wins record eighth Ballon d’Or
Football icon Lionel Messi won a record-extending eighth Ballon d'Or for the best player in the world on Monday.
Hailing from Inter Miami, Messi, who had previously claimed the prestigious award in 2021, played an instrumental role in leading Argentina to their first World Cup victory in 36 years. Their momentous triumph came as they outshone the defending champions, France, in the thrilling final held last year.
At 36 years old, Lionel Messi now stands three Ballons d'Or ahead of his long-standing rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, who clinched his last of five trophies in 2017. Messi's exceptional prowess on the field has consistently propelled him to the top, as he has secured a place among the top three candidates a remarkable 14 times, ending as a runner-up on five occasions.
Reflecting on his incredible journey, Messi humbly expressed, 'I couldn't have envisioned the extraordinary career I've had. The remarkable achievements I've accomplished, and the privilege of playing for the best team in the world, which is also the best team in history. Winning these individual accolades is truly special. Securing victories in the Copa America and then the World Cup is beyond words.'
He further remarked, 'Each of these Ballon d'Or awards holds its unique significance for me.'
In a delightful parallel to Messi's triumph, his World Cup-winning compatriot, Emiliano Martinez, was honored with the Lev Yashin award for the world's finest goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, Spain's Women's World Cup champion and Barcelona midfielder, Aitana Bonmati, was bestowed with the women's Ballon d'Or, showcasing the remarkable achievements of female footballers on the international platform.
Messi's journey to his eighth Ballon d'Or began in 2009 when he secured his first, and he continued to shine, clinching four consecutive awards until 2012.