Lionel Messi makes it 8!
In a remarkable display of footballing prowess, Lionel Messi has once again etched his name into the annals of history by winning his 8th Ballon d'Or at the age of 34. This Argentine maestro continues to defy the odds, surpassing his contemporaries with an unquenchable hunger for success. The footballing world watched in awe as Messi secured this prestigious accolade, and let's dive into the details of this remarkable achievement.
The Ballon d'Or ranking saw Messi leading the pack, followed by Erling Haaland in the 2nd position, Kylian Mbappe in 3rd, Kevin De Bruyne in 4th, and Rodri in 5th place. With this victory, Messi has further cemented his legacy by adding an eighth Ballon d'Or to his already illustrious collection, having previously triumphed in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, and 2021. In recognition of his unprecedented success, Adidas presented Messi with 8 gold rings, symbolizing each of his Ballon d'Or triumphs.
Each of these victories carries its unique significance:
- In 2009, "El beso" marked his iconic celebration, kissing the boot in the UCL final against Manchester United.
- In 2010, "Apunta Al Cielo" was a tribute to his mystical celebration dedicated to his grandmother, Celia.
- 2011 was dubbed "GOAT" as Messi led Pep's Barcelona, arguably the best team in history.
- In 2012, "91" commemorated his record-breaking 91 goals in a calendar year.
- 2015 celebrated his fourth Champions League win.
- 2019 was for securing his last Golden Shoe, making him the top winner with 6 in total.
- 2021's title, "South American Champion," honoured his pivotal role in winning the Copa América, where he was not only the MVP but also the top scorer.
- In 2023, "The three stars" paid homage to Argentina, champions of the world.
It was as if fate itself had scripted this moment when Messi accepted the Ballon d'Or on the day of Diego Maradona's birthday. Messi, in a heartfelt gesture, dedicated a portion of his award to his family, teammates, and the late Maradona, symbolically pointing to the heavens.
Taking a retrospective look at Messi's remarkable year, his performance with Paris St. Germain was nothing short of spectacular. He contributed 16 goals and 16 assists in Ligue 1, ultimately clinching the league title. In the Champions League, he notched 4 goals and 4 assists, ranking second in assists behind Vinicius Jr. with 5, and guiding his team to the round of 16.
However, the crowning moment came on the international stage, with Messi leading Argentina in the 2022 World Cup. He played every single match, amassing 690 minutes, the highest in the tournament. He netted 7 goals, provided 3 assists, and took 32 shots, setting tournament highs in each category. At the age of 34, Messi's outstanding performance was instrumental in securing Argentina's 3rd World Cup trophy.
In the women's Ballon d'Or category, Aitana Bonmati earned the accolade after her stellar year with Barcelona, claiming league and Champions League titles and contributing to Spain's World Cup victory in Australia. Emiliano Martinez received the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper, despite some French dissent, due to his crucial role in Argentina's World Cup triumph. Additionally, Jude Bellingham was recognized with the Kopa Trophy for best young player, acknowledging his brilliant displays for Borussia Dortmund.
As Lionel Messi continues to break records and captivate football enthusiasts worldwide, his future is a source of anticipation. With his first full MLS season starting in 2024 and the prospect of the Copa America, the footballing world eagerly awaits the next chapter in the story of La Pulga.
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