Paris, Nov 29 (EFE).- Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has added to his record haul of Ballon d’Or trophies, winning that award for the seventh time here Monday night thanks in large part to the Albiceleste’s victory in the Copa America.
The former FC Barcelona great and member of Paris Saint-Germain since August beat out Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Italian midfielder Jorginho for that prestigious honor, which is bestowed by French news magazine France Football.
Messi, who also won that award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019, led Barcelona to the Copa del Rey title earlier this year and was the top scorer in LaLiga in the 2020-2021 season.
But in his acceptance speech in Paris on Monday night, he said the Copa America victory had made this year’s honor particularly special.
“I’ve won this award several times and I always had the sense that there was something missing,” Messi said in remarks in Spanish. “And this year, it was completely different. I was able to achieve the dream that I so much wanted.”
“I think a big part of this award is what we did in the Copa America, so I want to share it with all of my (Argentine) teammates.”
Messi also has words of praise for Lewandowski, who missed out on the Ballon d’Or trophy last year when no winner was chosen due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I also want to say to Robert that it was an honor for me to compete (for the award) with him. I think that you deserve your Ballon d’Or, that last year everyone agreed that you were the winner,” the Argentine forward said.
Lewandowski led Bayern Munich to the Champions League title in 2019-2020, but he finished second in this year’s Ballon d’Or voting after Bayern lost in the Champions quarterfinals and Poland failed to make it out of the group phase of Euro 2020 (played this summer).
The 34-year-old Messi became the first player to win this prestigious honor on seven occasions and now leads his main rival for the award, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, by two.
Ronaldo, 36, had finished in the top three in the voting for nine straight years, but that streak came to an end in 2021.
Also on Monday night, Lewandowski won the award for striker of the year, Spain’s Alexia Putellas won the Women’s Ballon d’Or, 19-year-old Spanish midfielder Pedri took home the Kopa Trophy for best player under the age of 21 and Italian net minder Gianluigi Donnarumma was awarded the Yashin Trophy for goalkeeper of the year. EFE