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Messi on stage smiling and holding trophy after winning the 2023 balloon d'or

Messi Wins Ballon d’Or for Record 8th Time

Newly-minted Inter Miami CF star Lionel Messi has won the 2023 Ballon d’Or, ESPN reports, a record eighth win for the 36-year-old former Barça and PSG player.

It’s the first time a player playing in the MLS has claimed the prize, and despite his success at Inter Miami since his arrival, it was his role as Argentina’s captain in the 2022 World Cup triumph in Qatar that sealed the deal.

Competition for the award was steep this year, with Manchester City striker Erling Haaland coming in second in the Ballon d’Or voting, after scoring 52 goals for City last season and winning the Gerd Muller Trophy given to the best striker of the year.

I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved,” said Messi after receiving his award in Paris. “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,” he added.

Messi was indispensable to Argentina’s success in Qatar last November and December, scoring seven goals and assisting three as he was named as the Player of the Tournament of a memorable World Cup.

All eyes were on Messi, as the tournament was widely viewed as his last chance to lead his national team to glory at football’s biggest tournament. Argentina fell short in four prior World Cups with Messi, most recently losing to Germany in the 2014 final.

He did not disappoint his supporters, and neither did the exhilarating final match of the 2022 World Cup. Messi scored twice in the final in Qatar, which ended in a 3-3 draw. He scored again during the nail-biting 4-2 penalty shootout against France. When he hoisted the trophy, the whole world seemed to rejoice that the player widely considered the best of all time won the world’s highest award at very long last.

Read the full article at ESPN.

Relive the 2022 World Cup highlights here.

Photo by Franck Fife /AFP

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