BALLON D’OR 2023: LIONEL MESSI WINS RECORD-EXTENDING EIGHTH BALLON D’OR AWARD FOLLOWING WORLD CUP SUCCESS
The winner of the 2023 Ballon d’Or has been announced and Lionel Messi has won a record-extending eighth award. The Inter Miami and Argentina striker, who played for Paris Saint-Germain last season, captained Argentina to the World Cup in Qatar last December, ending a 36-year wait for the South American country. Messi, 36, has won the award three times more than anyone else.
Lionel Messi was named the Ballon d’Or 2023 winner at a ceremony in Paris on Monday, the eighth time he has won the prestigious award.
Messi captained Argentina to 2022 World Cup success in Qatar last winter, the first time he won the tournament which ended a 36-year wait for La Albiceleste.
The 36-year-old scored twice in a blockbuster final against France in December which finished 3-3 after extra-time, scored in the penalty shoot-out and was named player of the match.
Messi fought off competition from Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and former Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe, as well as 26 other nominees to win the award.
In a league title-winning season for PSG, he played 41 matches during the 2022/23 season, scored 21 goals and provided 20 assists.
At the World Cup in Qatar, Messi scored twice in the group stage and was on target in each knockout round, scoring against Australia, the Netherlands and Croatia, and then in the final.
He finished second in the top goalscorer charts with seven goals and received the Golden Ball at the conclusion of the tournament in recognition of his fine campaign.
On stage, he said: “Thank you very much, to share this with my national team-mates for what we were able to achieve with the national team.
“The entire group, the coaching staff, everyone involved. I’m delighted to be here once more to be able to enjoy this moment one more time.
“To be able to win the World Cup and really achieve my dream, to share this with all those who were involved.”
Fittingly, after his World Cup success, he added: “To finish, I want to say happy birthday to Diego Maradona.”
After his contract at PSG ran out in the summer, Messi moved to Inter Miami in MLS on a free transfer and was one of three players nominated for the award who do not currently play in Europe.
The former Barcelona forward spent 17 years with the Spanish club between 2004 and 2021 and also won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021.
He was 22 years old when he won his first in 2009 and 14 years later has sealed a record eighth award.
Portugal and Al Nassr captain Cristiano Ronaldo is in second place with five awards but was not nominated for the 2023 edition, the first time he has not been up for the award since 2003.
There were plenty of nominations from the Premier League, with Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and Julian Alvarez among the seven Manchester City players put forward.
Speaking to his fellow nominees, he said: “Hats off to Kylian [Mbappe], Erling, Kevin, You guys are very young, you’ve achieved so much already, so plenty of time left.”
England’s Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham were also nominated.
Spain’s Aitana Bonmati, who also won the World Cup, won the fifth edition of the Ballon d’Or Feminin while Real Madrid’s Bellingham was named the best young player and awarded the Kopa Trophy.