Lionel Messi has won one more accolade as the World Cup winner wins a record Balon D’Or for the eighth time, becoming one of the most decorated players in the history of football. He has surpassed fellow footballers Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe- the other two contenders of this award, thus establishing his legacy as one of the greatest and best in the football fraternity.
Lionel Messi- the legend
Lionel Messi- the name needs no introduction, as he has been one of the greatest ever to grace the field of football. The former FC Barcelona and PSG star, who is now plying his trade for American side Inter Miami, and has led them to their first title, has once again surpassed everyone to beat the youngsters on stage to deservingly win the Balon d’Or. The Golden Ball, widely regarded as one of the distinguished award given for individual brilliance on the field, once again goes to Lionel Messi, the man who has lifted this accolade more than any other player- eight times, thus settling the debate as one of the “Greatest of All Time”.
This award is given on the basis of several criteria, on which Messi seemed to have stood out in every category, outclassing Manchester United treble winner Erling Haaland and his former teammate in PSG, Kylian Mbappe.
But, Messi’s highest moment in life came last year, on 18th December 2022, in Qatar, where he played out one of the legendary games in his career, stamping his authority over the rest, when he laid his hands on the most coveted trophy, the World Cup.
His side defeated their nemesis France, who had posed a sturdy challenge to protect their title defense, with superstar Mbappe scoring a hattrick for Les Bleus. But, in the end, “the little boy from Rosario”, edged his opponents to win the trophy, thus etching his name in the record books with a poetic World Cup triumph in possibly his last Cup.
A poetic World Cup triumph, with his eighth Balon d’Or, Lionel Messi, the man, the myth, the legend has definitely established himself as one of the greatest ever to play the sport, and graced the field with his exceptional finesse and prowess, which will be remembered in the years to come. His eighth comes in the night on Diego Maradona’s birthday, with Messi wishing him on the stage, as he passed on the baton to the younger generations boasting of Mbappe and Haaland, as he mentioned them to be potential winners in the future.
Game recognizes game!
Erling Haaland- the goal-machine
The only close contender to Leo Messi this season in ousting him from the Balon d’Or winning position was Manchester City’s treble winning superstar Erling Haaland. Nicknamed the “machine”, owing to his goalscoring prowess and monstrous ability to score humongous goals, Haaland has been close to Messi the entire season, and has seemed to have been named as the potential winner of Balon D’Or in the future, by Messi himself.
His unscrupulous numbers of 56 goals and 9 assists have been talk of the town, adding to his treble for Manchester City, winning Premier League, FA Cup and the most coveted UEFA Champions League. Haaland was one of the biggest names last season, owing to his goalscoring finesse and prolificity, and as a result, it has fetched him the Gerd Mueller Trophy, given to the players with highest number of goals in a season. Although considered by some to win the Balon d’Or, Haaland is touted to be one of the future winners of this accolade, as mentioned by Lionel Messi himself.
Aitana Bonmati- the queen of football
FC Barcelona Feminin players have been on top form since last few years, as their Balon d’Or winners list suggests the same. In the past two years, it has been Alexia Putellas, the legendary star from Barca and Spain, and this time, it was her compatriot Aitana Bonmati’s turn to enter the history books.
The Spanish playmaker from the yards of La Masia, who has etched her name in the record books when she won the World Cup, simultaneously winning the Golden Ball, has been adjudged the Balon d’Or winner, owing to her widespread success for the National team.
She has been exceptional with the ball for Barca and Spain, showcasing her skills and ability with finesse, thus continuing the legacy of FC Barcelona players winning the accolade, closely following on the footsteps of her compatriot Alexia Putellas.
Jude Bellingham- Real Madrid’s poster boy
Jude Bellingham has been one of the greatest names in football since last year. The former Borussia Dortmund player, currently plying his trade with Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid, has finally etched his name on the Kopa Trophy after being nominated consecutively three times.
His tactics and wonderous prowess to score goals has fetched him his long anticipated Kopa Trophy, as Real Madrid star has racked up numbers this season with “Los Blancos”, with a goal in almost every game, and well on course to be nominated for Balon d’Or next year, as the awards show welcome Bellingham to the fore by singing an all-time classic “Hey Jude”.
Emi Martinez- the enterprising guard
Emi Martinez, fondly known as “Dibu”, has been awarded with the Yashin trophy, given to goalkeepers for their exceptional skills beneath the sticks. Emi has been prolific since last year owing to his exploits in the World Cup, involving several crunch-time saves and his on-field antics seem to have taken over the world.
Although he has been awarded for his class throughout the year, millions of Argentine fans will always thank him due to his last ditch save in the World Cup final, with his outstretched legs enough to thwart a Randal Kolo Muani strike on the dying minutes, thus preventing France to win the Cup again. Martinez, former Arsenal player has thus been rewarded with his on-field heroics as he is expected to win more accolades for his country, in the coming days.
Along with these awards, Manchester City won the team of the year award for their exploits with winning the treble, for a second consecutive time, as FC Barcelona Feminin has been adjudged the best women’s team of the year.