At 36, the Argentinian has won the prestigious award three times more than anyone else.
Lionel Messi has won the 2023 men’s Ballon d’Or for a record eighth time on Monday after captaining Argentina to a 2022 FIFA World Cup triumph in Qatar last year.
The 36-year-old was recognised as the best footballer ahead of Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and former Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe, as well as 26 other nominees to win the award.
Messi toasted his award to his Argentinian teammates and the late legend Diego Maradona, who led the country to its second World Cup victory back in 1986.
“I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved,” Messi said after getting his award.
“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,” the Inter Miami superstar added.
“My last mention is for Diego [Maradona],” Messi said.
“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,” the superstar, dubbed the ‘Greatest of All Time’, said.
Messi has now etched his name into the history books after becoming the first to win the Ballon d’Or eight times – in 2009 and then again in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021 and now 2023.
Cristiano Ronaldo comes second to Messi as the most decorated player in the history of the Ballon d’Or award, with five titles.
However, this year, Ronaldo was not nominated for the 2023 edition, ending a 20-year run. Now playing for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, Ronaldo missed the cut for the first time since 2003.
Haaland finished second following a season in which he scored 52 goals across all competitions, while Mbappe missed out on the podium.
Ballon d’Or Feminin
Barcelona and Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmati won the fifth edition of the Ballon d’Or Feminin, the first time the 25-year-old has obtained the award.
Bonmati featured in the Women’s World Cup final, in which Spain defeated England 1-0 in a stunning face-off.
“I’m very proud to receive this Ballon d’Or tonight. It’s been quite a unique level, football-wise. It’s an individual award, but football is a team sport, so I’d like to extend this prize to my teammates, the staff, everyone involved at Barcelona, all my international teammates as well,” Bonmati said upon winning the award.
Sam Kerr of Australia came second, while 19-year-old rising star Salma Paralluelo from Spain claimed third place.