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Ballon d’Or 2023: Lionel Messi Outshines Erling Haaland for Record Eighth Victory

Lionel Messi Clinches Eighth Ballon d’Or, Creating History

Ballon d'Or 2023: Lionel Messi Outshines Erling Haaland for Record Eighth Victory
Ballon d’Or 2023: Lionel Messi Outshines Erling Haaland for Record Eighth Victory

In a groundbreaking moment, Inter Miami CF sensation Lionel Messi secured his eighth Ballon d’Or, eclipsing competition from Manchester City’s prolific striker, Erling Haaland. This extraordinary achievement came on the heels of Messi’s monumental contribution in leading Argentina to World Cup glory last year.

At 36 years of age, Messi now stands as the most decorated player to ever claim the prestigious Ballon d’Or. His victory this time primarily hinges on his exploits with the Argentinian national team in the football extravaganza that unfolded in Qatar. David Beckham, former Manchester United star and co-owner of Inter Miami, had the honor of presenting Messi with this coveted award at the glittering ceremony in Paris.

Erling Haaland, who set the footballing world on fire with a staggering 52 goals during the 2022-23 season, clinched the second position in the Ballon d’Or rankings. He also bagged the Gerd Muller Trophy for being the year’s best striker.

Reflecting on his career and the triumph, Messi humbly remarked, “I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved, the fortune I’ve had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. 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.”

Aitana Bonmatí Shines in the Ballon d’Or Féminin Category

Aitana Bonmatí wins the Ballon d'Or Féminin Category
Aitana Bonmatí wins the Ballon d’Or Féminin Category
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Prior to Messi’s momentous win, the Ballon d’Or Féminin went to Barcelona and Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmatí. She celebrated a record-breaking year both with her club and her country, propelling her team to victory in the Liga F and the Champions League and subsequently leading Spain to World Cup glory in the summer.

In other categories of the awards ceremony, Messi’s compatriot Emiliano Martinez was honored with the Yashin Trophy for being the best goalkeeper, while England’s Jude Bellingham, who plies his trade at Real Madrid, clinched the Kopa Trophy as the world’s top player under 21.

During his acceptance speech, Messi made a heartfelt tribute to his fellow countryman, the legendary Diego Maradona, whose birthday fell on that very day. He expressed, “My last mention is for Diego [Maradona]. Today is his birthday. So I would like to remember him from here, surrounded by the best players, coaches, and people who love football like he did. Wherever you are, Diego, happy birthday. This goes also to you.”

Lionel Messi’s eighth Ballon d’Or win further cements his status as one of the greatest footballers in history. Prior to this victory, no player had claimed the Ballon d’Or more times than Messi, who initially clinched the award in 2009, and subsequently in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, and 2021.

Messi’s Recent Journey: From Paris to Miami

Last season, Messi scored an impressive 21 goals in 41 appearances while representing Paris Saint-Germain, aiding them in retaining the Ligue 1 title. His journey took an interesting turn as he embarked on a new chapter in his career by joining Inter Miami earlier this year.

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Since his move to the United States, Messi has managed to find the back of the net 11 times in 14 appearances for Miami, contributing significantly to the franchise’s historic victory in the Leagues Cup. However, an injury sidelined him for several matches toward the end of the regular MLS season, ultimately impacting his team’s bid for a playoff spot.

Yet, it was Messi’s stellar performance in the 2022 World Cup that sealed his eighth Ballon d’Or triumph. As the captain of the Argentinian national team, he played a pivotal role in their success in Qatar, scoring seven goals and providing three assists, earning him the title of Player of the Tournament. His heroic brace in the final and crucial contributions during the penalty shootout against France made that final one for the history books.

Having faced World Cup disappointment on four previous occasions, including a heartbreaking loss in the 2014 final against Germany, many believed this was Messi’s last chance to lift football’s most coveted prize. At 36 years and four months old, he also became the second-oldest player to ever claim the Ballon d’Or, dethroning last year’s winner, Karim Benzema. Only the inaugural winner, Stanley Matthews in 1956, was older when he secured the award at the age of 41.

Messi’s initial six Ballon d’Or awards were captured during his tenure with Barcelona, where he holds the record for the most goals and appearances for the club. His seventh triumph came shortly after his move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, following his success with Argentina in the Copa America.

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