Lionel Messi Wins Record Seventh Ballon d’Or

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Lionel Messi Wins Document Seventh Ballon d’Or

A number of the most illustrious names in soccer’s lengthy historical past solely managed to win the Ballon d’Or, the game’s most prestigious particular person prize, as soon as. George Greatest, Zinedine Zidane and Eúsebio all have only a single award to their names. Ronaldo, the nice Brazilian striker, gained two. Johan Cruyff, arguably the best European participant in historical past, has three.

After Monday night time, Lionel Messi now has seven.

The 34-year-old Messi successfully retained the trophy he final gained in 2019 — controversially, the award was not handed out by France Soccer final 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic — after a 12 months during which he ended his lengthy watch for a global honor, successful the Copa América with Argentina, and left Barcelona, the membership the place he had spent all of his profession, for Paris St.-Germain.

“It’s unimaginable to be right here once more,” Messi mentioned. “Two years in the past I believed it was the final time. Profitable the Copa América was the important thing.”

“I don’t know what number of years I’ve left,” he added, “however I hope many extra.”

Barcelona could have misplaced Messi this 12 months nevertheless it nonetheless took residence some {hardware} on Monday: Alexia Putellas, a star midfielder on its treble-winning ladies’s staff, was a straightforward winner in voting for the ladies’s Ballon d’Or, and {the teenager} Pedri, a rising expertise who’s already a fixture for Barcelona and Spain’s nationwide staff, was honored because the world’s greatest participant underneath age 21.

Messi, who had arrived on the gala at Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet, in a shimmering tuxedo — a glance matched by his three younger sons — was usually soft-spoken in accepting his award. He praised his former teammates at Barcelona, his countrymen with Argentina, and vowed to battle for brand new trophies together with his new membership, P.S.G.

Messi defeated his closest contender, Bayern Munich’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, in voting by 176 journalists and performed by France Soccer, which awards the prize (nearly) yearly. Many consultants argued Lewandowski deserved the dignity in 2020, when it was not handed out as a result of, organizers mentioned, disruptions to the soccer calendar had made it not possible to guage. Messi mentioned he agreed with that place.

“I believe you deserved to win the award final 12 months,” Messi instructed Lewandowski from the stage, calling it “an honor” to battle him for high honors in 2021.

Jorginho, the Brazil-born Italy midfielder, was third, reward for a season during which his membership staff, Chelsea, gained the Champions League and Italy lifted the European Championship. Actual Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema was fourth, and Jorginho’s Chelsea midfield accomplice, N’Golo Kanté, was fifth.

Although it has hardly been a classic 12 months by Messi’s requirements — Barcelona was crushed to the Spanish title by Atlético Madrid and eradicated from final season’s Champions League within the spherical of 16 by P.S.G. — his achievement with Argentina, in addition to the eye drawn by his transfer to France after successful six Ballons d’Or at Barcelona, was sufficient to persuade the award’s jurors.

That Messi had by no means gained a global trophy together with his nationwide staff had all the time been held in opposition to him within the debate over whether or not he warrants the standing as soccer’s biggest ever participant. His rivals, in any case, had triumphed with their international locations in addition to their golf equipment: Pelé led Brazil to 3 World Cups, Diego Maradona impressed Argentina to 1, and Cristiano Ronaldo helped Portugal declare the European Championship in 2016.

Messi lastly put that concept to relaxation on this summer season’s Copa América, breaking down in tears on the sphere after Angel Di María’s objective had given Argentina its first worldwide trophy since 1993, beating Brazil, the host, within the closing.

His tally of seven Ballons d’Or now places him two away from Ronaldo, his nice rival: The Portuguese ahead stays on 5, however he has not gained the prize since 2017, and at age 36 he’s greater than two years older than Messi.

Ronaldo, who completed sixth within the voting, was absent from Monday’s ceremony however his rivalry with Messi was not. On his Instagram account, Ronaldo angrily took concern with a remark made just lately by France Soccer’s editor in chief, Pascal Ferré, in an interview with UpAeroSpace concerning the award’s status.

“Ronaldo has just one ambition, and that’s to retire with extra Ballons d’Or than Messi,” Ferré mentioned, “and I do know that as a result of he has instructed me.”

Ronaldo — regardless of suggesting as a lot in different interviews — denied he had made the remark, saying, “Ferré lied, used my identify to advertise himself and to advertise the publication he works for.”

Putellas, the 27-year-old midfielder who captains Barcelona’s all-conquering ladies’s staff, gained the ladies’s Ballon d’Or. Her victory accomplished a clear sweep of final season’s prizes, after she led her Barcelona aspect to the Champions League title and a league and cup double in Spain, after which was honored as Europe’s participant of the 12 months.

Her fundamental rivals for the Ballon d’Or have been largely familiar faces: Barcelona had turn into the primary ladies’s staff to register 5 nominees in a single 12 months, and two of Putellas’s teammates — Jennifer Hermoso, who was second, and Lieke Martens, who was fifth — completed in the top five within the voting.

“Actually it’s a bit emotional, and really particular,” Putellas mentioned. “It’s nice to be right here with all of my teammates, since now we have lived and skilled a lot collectively, particularly previously 12 months.”

“That is a person prize,” she added, “however soccer is a staff sport.”

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