PARIS — The list reads 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021, and now 2023.
Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or for a record-extending eighth time on Monday after fulfilling his life’s ambition by leading Argentina to the World Cup title in Qatar last year.
Adding to his silverware the one major trophy that eluded him in his storied career was the decisive factor in an otherwise quite mundane season — for his standards — at Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi, 36, won ahead of Manchester City forward Erling Haaland and his former PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe.
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 also paid tribute to the late Diego Maradona, who also helped Argentina win the World Cup, back in 1986.
“This title and this trophy,” Messi said, “I share them with you and all our Argentina comrades.”
Aitana Bonmati won the women’s award for guiding Spain to victory at the Women’s World Cup in August. She also helped Barcelona win the Women’s Champions League and Spanish league.
A year after missing out on the shortlist for the 2022 Ballon d’Or, and despite leaving top-level European soccer behind, Messi has recovered his crown.
He won the sport’s biggest individual prize because of his tremendous World Cup. In Qatar, Messi was involved in 10 goals for Argentina, scoring seven and assisting three. He scored twice in the final against France.
His final season with PSG was less shiny. Although PSG won a record-extending 11th French league, it again exited the Champions League in the round of 16.
Nobody else has won more than five Ballon d’Or. Cristiano Ronaldo has five, and Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, and Marco van Basten each won it three times.