Some of the most illustrious names in soccer’s extensive historical past only managed to gain the Ballon d’Or, the sport’s most prestigious person prize, when. George Ideal, Zinedine Zidane and Eúsebio all have just a solitary award to their names. Ronaldo, the good Brazilian striker, gained two. Johan Cruyff, arguably the very best European participant in heritage, has three.
Soon after Monday night time, Lionel Messi now has seven.
The 34-12 months-old Messi successfully retained the trophy he very last gained in 2019 — controversially, the award was not handed out by France Football last 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic — immediately after a year in which he ended his long wait around for an international honor, profitable the Copa América with Argentina, and left Barcelona, the club exactly where he experienced invested all of his job, for Paris St.-Germain.
“It’s amazing to be right here once again,” Messi said. “Two many years in the past I imagined it was the last time. Successful the Copa América was the crucial.”
“I really don’t know how a lot of a long time I have remaining,” he added, “but I hope lots of extra.”
Barcelona could have lost Messi this 12 months but it still took home some components on Monday: Alexia Putellas, a star midfielder on its treble-profitable women’s group, was an uncomplicated winner in voting for the women’s Ballon d’Or, and the teen Pedri, a increasing talent who is previously a fixture for Barcelona and Spain’s countrywide staff, was honored as the world’s very best participant less than age 21.
Messi, who had arrived at the gala at Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet, in a shimmering tuxedo — a search matched by his three younger sons — was generally comfortable-spoken in accepting his award. He praised his previous teammates at Barcelona, his countrymen with Argentina, and vowed to battle for new trophies with his new club, P.S.G.
Messi defeated his closest contender, Bayern Munich’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, in voting by 176 journalists and carried out by France Football, which awards the prize (pretty much) every single year. Many gurus argued Lewandowski deserved the honor in 2020, when it was not handed out for the reason that, organizers stated, disruptions to the soccer calendar had built it impossible to judge. Messi mentioned he agreed with that position.
“I believe you deserved to gain the award past 12 months,” Messi informed Lewandowski from the stage, contacting it “an honor” to fight him for top rated honors in 2021.
Jorginho, the Brazil-born Italy midfielder, was third, reward for a year in which his club crew, Chelsea, received the Champions League and Italy lifted the European Championship. True Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema was fourth, and Jorginho’s Chelsea midfield husband or wife, N’Golo Kanté, was fifth.
However it has hardly been a vintage calendar year by Messi’s criteria — Barcelona was crushed to the Spanish title by Atlético Madrid and removed from last season’s Champions League in the spherical of 16 by P.S.G. — his achievement with Argentina, as effectively as the attention drawn by his transfer to France right after profitable 6 Ballons d’Or at Barcelona, was plenty of to convince the award’s jurors.
That Messi had hardly ever received an worldwide trophy with his national group experienced normally been held from him in the discussion about regardless of whether he warrants the status as soccer’s biggest ever participant. His rivals, immediately after all, had triumphed with their nations as properly as their golf equipment: Pelé led Brazil to a few Environment Cups, Diego Maradona influenced Argentina to 1, and Cristiano Ronaldo served Portugal declare the European Championship in 2016.
Messi lastly place that strategy to rest in this summer’s Copa América, breaking down in tears on the industry soon after Angel Di María’s aim had specified Argentina its initial intercontinental trophy given that 1993, beating Brazil, the host, in the final.
His tally of seven Ballons d’Or now places him two crystal clear of Ronaldo, his fantastic rival: The Portuguese ahead stays on 5, but he has not gained the prize considering that 2017, and at age 36 he is far more than two decades older than Messi.
Ronaldo, who completed sixth in the voting, was absent from Monday’s ceremony but his rivalry with Messi was not. On his Instagram account, Ronaldo angrily took difficulty with a comment made just lately by France Football’s editor in main, Pascal Ferré, in an interview with The New York Situations about the award’s prestige.
“Ronaldo has only just one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi,” Ferré claimed, “and I know that because he has instructed me.”
Ronaldo — even with suggesting as considerably in other interviews — denied he had made the remark, stating, “Ferré lied, used my title to advertise himself and to promote the publication he performs for.”
Putellas, the 27-year-aged midfielder who captains Barcelona’s all-conquering women’s group, won the women’s Ballon d’Or. Her victory concluded a cleanse sweep of last season’s prizes, right after she led her Barcelona side to the Champions League title and a league and cup double in Spain, and then was honored as Europe’s participant of the yr.
Her key rivals for the Ballon d’Or ended up largely familiar faces: Barcelona experienced develop into the initial women’s crew to sign up five nominees in a one 12 months, and two of Putellas’s teammates — Jennifer Hermoso, who was next, and Lieke Martens, who was fifth — finished in the prime five in the voting.
“Honestly it is a little bit emotional, and extremely distinctive,” Putellas stated. “It’s wonderful to be listed here with all of my teammates, considering that we have lived and professional so a great deal together, especially in the earlier calendar year.”
“This is an person prize,” she extra, “but football is a group activity.”