Lionel Messi Wins Record Seventh Ballon d’Or

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Some of the most illustrious names in soccer’s extensive heritage only managed to acquire the Ballon d’Or, the sport’s most prestigious individual prize, when. George Best, Zinedine Zidane and Eúsebio all have just a single award to their names. Ronaldo, the excellent Brazilian striker, received two. Johan Cruyff, arguably the finest European player in record, has three.

Following Monday evening, Lionel Messi now has 7.

The 34-12 months-previous Messi proficiently retained the trophy he previous received in 2019 — controversially, the award was not handed out by France Football final yr for the reason that of the coronavirus pandemic — just after a 12 months in which he finished his lengthy hold out for an global honor, profitable the Copa América with Argentina, and left Barcelona, the club in which he experienced used all of his career, for Paris St.-Germain.

Messi, who experienced arrived at the gala at Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet, in a shimmering tuxedo — a appear matched by his three younger sons — was generally delicate-spoken in accepting the award: He praised his previous teammates at Barcelona, his countrymen with Argentina, and vowed to fight for new trophies with 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 Soccer, which awards the prize (pretty much) each and every yr. Lots of gurus argued Lewandowski deserved the honor in 2020, when it was not handed out mainly because, organizers said, disruptions to the soccer calendar had produced it not possible to choose. Messi reported he agreed with that situation.

“I think you deserved to earn the award previous year,” Messi advised Lewandowski from the stage, contacting it “an honor” to battle him for best honors in 2021.

Jorginho, the Brazil-born Italy midfielder, was third, reward for a season in which his club staff, Chelsea, won the Champions League and Italy lifted the European Championship. Authentic Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema was fourth, and Jorginho’s Chelsea midfield companion, N’Golo Kanté, was fifth.

Although it has rarely been a vintage year by Messi’s expectations — Barcelona was beaten to the Spanish title by Atlético Madrid and removed from previous season’s Champions League in the round of 16 by P.S.G. — his achievement with Argentina, as properly as the notice drawn by his shift to France following winning six Ballons d’Or at Barcelona, was more than enough to convince the award’s jurors.

That Messi experienced by no means received an intercontinental trophy with his nationwide staff experienced normally been held from him in the debate over regardless of whether he warrants the standing as soccer’s greatest at any time player. His rivals, after all, experienced triumphed with their nations around the world as nicely as their golf equipment: Pelé led Brazil to a few Planet Cups, Diego Maradona impressed Argentina to 1, and Cristiano Ronaldo aided Portugal declare the European Championship in 2016.

Messi last but not least set that concept to rest in this summer’s Copa América, breaking down in tears on the subject right after Angel Di María’s objective had offered Argentina its 1st worldwide trophy due to the fact 1993, beating Brazil, the host, in the final.

His tally of seven Ballons d’Or now puts him two clear of Ronaldo, his terrific rival: The Portuguese forward remains on 5, but he has not won the prize considering the fact that 2017, and at age 36 he is much more than two years older than Messi.

Alexia Putellas, the 27-12 months-old midfielder who captains Barcelona’s all-conquering women’s crew, received the women’s Ballon d’Or. Her victory completed a cleanse sweep of last season’s prizes, just 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 player of the 12 months.

Her major rivals for the Ballon d’Or were being largely acquainted faces: Barcelona had develop into the initial women’s group to sign up five nominees in a one calendar year, and two of Putellas’s teammates — Jennifer Hermoso, who was next, and Lieke Martens, who was fifth — concluded in the leading 5 in the voting.

“Honestly it’s a little bit psychological, and very special,” Putellas reported. “It’s fantastic to be here with all of my teammates, considering that we have lived and knowledgeable so significantly collectively, primarily in the past yr.”

“This is an personal prize,” she included, “but football is a workforce activity.”