Lionel Messi, the forward from Argentina and Inter Miami, has secured his eighth Men’s Ballon d’Or award. This recognition comes after his pivotal role in his country’s victory at the World Cup in Qatar last year.
In addition, England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham was honored with the Kopa Trophy, acknowledging him as the world’s best player under 21.
Messi’s Ballon d’Or win extended his record, placing him ahead of Manchester City forward Erling Haaland.
Messi expressed his feelings, saying, “It’s a special moment to be here once again. Winning the World Cup and achieving my dream is truly amazing.”
Norwegian international Erling Haaland made history by scoring a remarkable 36 goals in 35 league games and 52 in all competitions while helping Manchester City secure the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup. His achievements were recognized with the Gerd Muller Trophy for the best goalscorer.
Haaland expressed his gratitude, saying, “I want to express my appreciation to Manchester City and everyone who has supported me, including my family.”
Messi has further solidified his position as the leading Ballon d’Or recipient, having won three more times than any other player, with Cristiano Ronaldo securing the award five times, most recently in 2017. Notably, Ronaldo, now playing for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, was not included on the shortlist for the first time since 2003.
Emiliano Martinez, the World Cup-winning goalkeeper from Argentina and Aston Villa, was honored with the Yashin Trophy as the best goalkeeper in the world. Martinez’s notable achievement included earning the Golden Glove in Qatar, saving a critical spot-kick during the penalty shootout against France. His performance also helped Aston Villa secure seventh place in the Premier League and a spot in the Europa Conference League.
However, Martinez faced criticism from some of the audience at the Paris ceremony, largely due to his celebration following Argentina’s World Cup victory against France last year.
For the second consecutive year, Manchester City received the “club of the year” award, marking their remarkable achievement as only the second English team to achieve the Treble of Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup in the previous season.
The ceremony also recognized Real Madrid winger Vinicius Jr, who was awarded the Socrates Award for his contributions off the field. Vinicius pledged to continue his fight against racism in world football, an issue he has personally faced in La Liga games over the past two seasons. His work includes the establishment of a foundation dedicated to building schools in disadvantaged areas and supporting education in Brazil.
Vinicius emphasized, “I will remain resolute in the battle against racism. It’s disheartening that we still need to address racism today, but our commitment is to reduce the suffering it causes.”