Lionel Messi become the first footballer to win the esteemed Ballon d’Or for a record 6 times beating Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The French award is open to all footballers worldwide. The winner is selected by journalists from around the world from a shortlisted nominee pool made up of 30 players.
Lionel Messi last won the award in 2015 and came runner up in 2016 and 2017, losing both times to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi’s win means that Ballon d’Or has been won by by a footballer from Spain’s La Liga for the past 11 years running.
In his speech, Messi hinted that he had no plans on retiring anytime soon but hoped to keep playing football for as long as he could.
“Today is my sixth Ballon d’Or. It’s a completely different moment, lived with my family and my children,”
“I hope to continue for a long time. I realise that I am very lucky, even if, one day, retirement will ring. It will be difficult.”
“But I still have beautiful years ahead of me. Time goes very quickly, so I want to enjoy football and my family.” he went on to add.
Messi, who now adds this to his FIFA The Best Man award that he received in September was closely in contention for the award with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk who came in as runner-up with Cristiano Ronaldo in third place.
Van Dijk was hoping to become the first defender to win the prestigious award Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
Van Dijk graciously accepted defeat and commended Messi along side all the other contenders for the award as he went on to say:
“It was an amazing year, but there’s a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural,”
“So you need to respect greatness as well.”
“I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better.”
“I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and Holland, and hopefully we can do that again this year.