There are players, legends, and then there’s Lionel Messi in the world of football. By winning his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or in 2023, the Argentine maestro has once again engraved his name into the annals of football history. But what makes this victory even more memorable? Let’s delve into the details.
A Journey to the Top, Again
Messi’s journey to his eighth Ballon d’Or wasn’t a straightforward one. Messi made a roaring comeback after an unexpected exclusion from the nominations the previous year, the first since 2005. He not only led Inter Miami with his trademark flair and creativity, but he also captained Argentina to World Cup glory. Such achievements are a testament to Messi’s undying passion for the game and his relentless pursuit of excellence.
While Messi stood tall as the winner, the competition was fierce. Erling Haaland of Manchester City and Norway finished as the runner-up, showcasing his goal-scoring prowess throughout the season. Kylian Mbappe of PSG and France took the third spot, continuing to dazzle fans with his speed and skill. Other prominent mentions include Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, and Vinicius Jr, all of whom have had outstanding seasons for their respective teams.
Messi’s humility shined through when he accepted the prize. He accepted that his playing days were coming to an end, saying, “I don’t know how much longer I’ll play, but I plan to enjoy it… But I’m sure that day is drawing closer.” He also hinted that this could be his final Ballon d’Or, expressing gratitude for his outstanding career and looking forward to seeing football from a new perspective.
In a touching tribute, Messi wished the late Diego Maradona, who would have turned 63, a happy birthday. He dedicated his award to Maradona, saying, “This is for you, too.” Messi’s connection with Maradona, both as an Argentine legend and a personal mentor, has always been profound.
A Standing Ovation
The cheering was thunderous as Messi took the platform. The Inter Miami and Argentina attacker was given a standing ovation, underlining his importance in the game. He gratefully shared his prize with his colleagues, emphasising the team effort that led to the World Cup victory. Messi also praised his other nominees for their outstanding seasons, particularly Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe, and Kevin De Bruyne.
The Legacy Continues
Lionel Messi’s eighth Ballon d’Or win is not just a personal achievement; it’s a celebration of football. It’s a testament to perseverance, talent, and passion. As fans, we’re fortunate to witness the magic of Messi, and while he admits that his playing days are numbered, the memories he’s given us are immortal.