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HomesportsWorld champions Messi and Bonmati crowned Ballon d’Or winners

World champions Messi and Bonmati crowned Ballon d’Or winners

Lionel Messi won the eighth Ballon d’Or of his remarkable career, while Spain’s World Cup-winning star Aitana Bonmati took the women’s prize at a glittering ceremony in Paris.

For Messi, the trophy awarded to him on Monday rewards, above all else, his inspirational performances at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, when he dragged Argentina to victory, scoring seven goals and being named the tournament’s best player.

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It was the crowning moment of his astonishing career, and it allowed him to see off stiff competition, in particular from Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, to take the award on the stage of the Chatelet Theatre in Paris.

It was a return to the French capital after he departed from Paris Saint-Germain in June and his subsequent move to Inter Miami in Major League Soccer.

Messi thanked his Argentina coach, teammates and staff for making his victory possible.

“Tonight I’m enjoying myself. It’s a pleasure that will never leave me, and I hope to be able to enjoy it for many years to come,” Messi said through a translator.

“Becoming world champion was the title we were missing. I’d like to thank everyone who helped make Argentina the world champion team.”

Messi dedicated the trophy to late Argentina legend Diego Maradona, who would have celebrated his 63rd birthday on Monday.

“Happy birthday Diego. This is for you too,” he said.

Messi benefits from a recent change which means the award is based on a player’s record over the last season, rather than over the calendar year.


Mbappe, Haaland miss out

Mbappe was the star player in that team, scoring 41 goals, and was also the World Cup’s top scorer with eight goals, including a hat-trick in the final which France lost to Argentina on penalties.

Yet he fell just short of the Ballon d’Or, finishing third, while Norway striker Haaland came second after scoring 52 goals in 53 games for the Manchester City team that won the treble of the English Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.

Messi is 36 and won his first Ballon d’Or in 2009. With eight, he is now three ahead of his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo, the next most decorated player in the history of the award.

It remains to be seen if Messi will again feature in the running for the prize, which is voted for by one journalist in each of the top 100 nations in the FIFA ranking.

“I am not thinking about the long-term future. I am just enjoying the day-to-day at the moment,” he said.

Messi will struggle to hold off the next wave of superstars, led by Mbappe, Haaland and Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, but his World Cup performances made his victory this time feel inevitable.

Bonmati marks ‘unique year’ with Ballon d’Or Feminin

The women’s prize seemed even more clear cut, as Bonmati was rewarded for starring as Spain won the Women’s World Cup in Australia in August.

The 25-year-old midfielder was named the best player at the Women’s World Cup as the Spanish team overcame off-field turbulence, including protests against their national federation and coach Jorge Vilda, to lift the trophy.

Bonmati also starred as Barcelona won the Champions League last season and was recently named the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year.

“It is difficult to improve on this. It has been a unique year,” she told reporters.

“If anyone said to me when I was little that I would play at the Camp Nou, win the World Cup, two Champions Leagues, a Ballon d’Or, a UEFA award, these are extraordinary things.”

Wins for Bellingham, Vinicius and Martinez

Bellingham won the Kopa Trophy for the best player of last season aged under 21.

The 20-year-old has started his Madrid career with 13 goals in 13 games, although the prize rewards his performances in his final campaign with Borussia Dortmund.

Bellingham’s Madrid teammate, the Brazil forward Vinicius Junior, won the Socrates Award in recognition of his off-pitch work.

Messi’s Argentina colleague Emiliano Martinez won the Yashin Trophy for the best goalkeeper of the season.

Source: News Agencies

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