He’s done it again. Lionel Messi emerged victorious in the 2023 Ballon d’Or ceremony, extending his record of prizes to an impressive eight awards. The Argentine star, however, made sure to praise both Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland in his speech.
“I would like to congratulate Haaland and Mbappe,” the 36-year-old said. Messi emphasized that while he’s not getting any younger, there’s a new generation of stars who will take center stage in the coming years. Leo said he’s looking forward to that, claiming that those young players in the auditorium will probably win the accolade in the near future.
However, he expects Mbappe and Haaland to lead this competition from now on: “It’s going to be a nice fight between the two of them and between several other younger players around here. They both deserved it this year.”
Before the ceremony closed, the Inter Miami star once again made it clear how much Haaland impressed him. “Haaland, you deserved the Ballon d’Or very much too. Erling has won the Premier League and Champions League while being the top scorer of everything. This award could have been yours today too. I’m sure for the next years you will win it.“
Messi makes history at 2023 Ballon d’Or
Though he played for Paris Saint-Germain during the voting period, Messi became the first active MLS player to win the award. Besides, it’s the first winner playing outside Europe.
Messi’s success, however, is thanks to his fantastic World Cup victory with Argentina in 2022. Last year, the Rosario-born winger led his country to a long-awaited third title by scoring seven goals in as many games in Qatar. In fact, he netted a hat-trick in the final against France.
With this accolade, Messi joined the group of players who won the World Cup and Ballon d’Or in the same season: Bobby Charlton (1966), Paolo Rossi (1982), Lothar Matthäus (1990), Zinedine Zidane (1998), Ronaldo (2002), Fabio Cannavaro (2006), and Lionel Messi (2022/23).
Besides, his eight awards are more than any other country in the award’s history. Messi has also extended his lead over Cristiano Ronaldo, the second most successful player with five prizes to his name.