From a fresh-faced wonderkid to a bearded veteran… Lionel Messi caps a decade of dominance as he surpasses Cristiano Ronaldo again with a sixth Ballon d’Or triumph
- Lionel Messi beat Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or
- It is the sixth time the Barcelona and Argentina star has claimed the prize
- His latest triumph comes 10 years after his first when he was 22-years-old
Ten years after his first, Lionel Messi got his hands on the Ballon d’Or for a sixth time on Monday night.
His most recent accolade caps an astonishing decade at the top of the sport for the Barcelona and Argentina star.
Speaking in the midst of a world media circus and tightly clutching his award, Messi said: ‘I am very grateful to the people of Barcelona and all the affection they show to me.
Lionel Messi was crowned the 2019 Ballon d’Or in a ceremony in Paris on Monday night
Messi poses with his six prizes as he won the award again – 10 years after the first time
Last year’s winner Luka Modric applauds as Messi poses with his latest Ballon d’Or
‘It’s a special day and this award means so much and I am very happy.
‘The truth is that the routine doesn’t allow me much time to stop and think and enjoy all that we have achieved.
MESSI’S BALLON D’ORS
‘I will enjoy it today and enjoy time with my family, then start thinking about what is coming next, as I always do.
‘I will think about all I have achieved as soon as I have time. But at the moment everything is going so fast that I can only think about the next game.’
The 32-year-old finished ahead of runner-up Virgil van Dijk and his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo in third.
Monday’s victory now puts Messi back out in front, with the Juventus star rooted on five successes having drawn level just 12 months ago.
It was his first triumph since 2015, and 10 years after his first it offers a neat symmetry to his career.
Messi beat Ronaldo and Xavi to the prize in 2009 after spearheading Barcelona’s treble under Pep Guardiola.
Messi claimed the Ballon d’Or for the first time when he was just 22 back in 2009
The Argentine claimed it for a second successive year as he won the award in 2010
Messi made it a hat-trick of wins as he was crowned the Ballon d’Or winner in 2011
It became four in four for Messi as he beat the competition once again after a stellar 2012
After missing out in both 2013 and 2014 Messi was back on top of the world in 2015
After a four-year wait Messi finally got his hands on the trophy for a sixth time on Monday
It included a headed goal in the Champions League final, a 2-0 victory over Manchester United in Rome.
It began four years of dominance for the Argentine.
He lifted it again in 2010, despite Spain’s World Cup victory and an agonising semi-final exit to Inter Milan in that year’s Champions League.
Messi had upped his goal return in the 2009-10 season, from 38 the year before up to 47.
In 2010-11 he passed the 50 mark, notching 53 times as Barca reclaimed their European crown at Wembley.
But in 2011-12 he went up another level, scoring 73 times in 60 games. Barca may have suffered another semi-final exit in the Champions League, but it was not enough to stop Messi, as he again pipped Ronaldo and Iniesta.
Last year Messi scored 51 goals in just 50 games as Barcelona won La Liga again
Messi celebrates a stunning goal against Bayern Munich in the 2015 Champions League
Messi celebrates scoring past Arsenal in 2010 on his way to winning his second Ballon d’Or
Ronaldo went on wrest back control of the award in 2013 and 2014, before Messi moved back to the pinnacle of the game in 2015 as Barca beat Juventus in that year’s Champions League final.
Real Madrid’s hat-trick of Champions Leagues saw their players steal the headlines between 2016 and 2018. Ronaldo won a further two while Luka Modric broke the duopoly last year.
The 2018 Ballon d’Or marked the first time Messi was outside of the top three since 2006. He had finished in third in 2007, behind Kaka and Ronaldo, and then behind just Ronaldo in 2008.
In 2018-19 Messi failed to wrestle back the prize he values most – the Champions League – as Liverpool completed an astonishing semi-final comeback at Anfield.
But an incredible return of 51 goals in just 50 games has seen Messi claim his spot back at the top of world football.
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