Ballon d’Or 2023: Lionel Messi Secures His Eighth Ballon d’Or Crown in a Historic Triumph

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Inter Miami CF’s Lionel Messi has etched his name into footballing history by claiming his eighth Ballon d’Or, making him the most decorated recipient of the prestigious award. The 36-year-old Argentine superstar fended off tough competition, notably from Manchester City’s prolific striker Erling Haaland, after leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar.

In a grand ceremony in Paris, Messi was handed the award by none other than former Manchester United player and Inter Miami co-owner, David Beckham. This victory is particularly remarkable as Messi is the first player based in Major League Soccer (MLS) to secure the Ballon d’Or, a testament to his enduring prowess on the football pitch.

Haaland, who had a stellar season with Manchester City, scoring an astounding 52 goals and helping the team clinch the Treble in 2022-23, finished as the runner-up and received the Gerd Muller Trophy for the best striker of the year.

An emotional Messi, during his acceptance speech, expressed his gratitude and reflected on his extraordinary career: “I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved…It’s nice to win these individual trophies. To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing. All of them [Ballon d’Or awards] are special for different reasons.”

Before Messi received his award, the Ballon d’Or Féminin was presented to Barcelona and Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmatí, recognizing her remarkable contributions to both club and country, including victories in Liga F and the Champions League with Barcelona and a World Cup triumph with Spain.

Additional awards were bestowed upon Messi’s compatriot, Emiliano Martinez, who claimed the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper, and England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham, who received the Kopa Trophy as the world’s top player under the age of 21.

Notably, Messi paid tribute to the late Diego Maradona, whose birthday fell on the same day, saying, “My last mention is for Diego [Maradona]… Wherever you are, Diego, happy birthday. This goes also to you.”

With eight Ballon d’Or awards to his name, Lionel Messi solidifies his place in footballing history, joining the ranks of legends who have achieved unprecedented success in the sport. His remarkable achievements in 2022, including leading Argentina to World Cup victory, make this victory especially memorable. Messi, at 36 years and four months old, also becomes the second-oldest player to ever win the Ballon d’Or, underlining his enduring brilliance on the global stage.