Lionel Messi: Of Passion, Ballon d’Or Dominance, Fairytale World Cup As Argentine Wins Another Award

Lionel Messi: Of Passion, Ballon d’Or Dominance, Fairytale World Cup As Argentine Wins Another Award

Martin Moses
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
Lionel Messi logo
Inter Miami CF logoFArgentina logo
  • Lionel Messi's World Cup win last year set the ball rolling for another Ballon d'Or crowning moment
  • The Argentine was declared the winner of the 2023 race, beating Manchester City's Erling Haaland
  • It has been nearly 15 years in which the Inter Miami forward dominated football at the highest level

As Gonzalo Montiel made the long way up the field at the Lusail Stadium on December 18 to take his penalty in the World Cup final, he knew what was at stake.

This finely-poised encounter, that failed to produce a winner in 120 minutes of pure class from an existing all-time great and one of his heirs apparent, had fallen at his doorstep to decide.

Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, Ballon d'Or
Lionel Messi celebrates with the World Cup trophy on December 18, 2022. Photo by David Ramos - FIFA.
Source: Getty Images

He had the chance to gift Lionel Messi the one trophy that was missing from his cabinet.

The then-Sevilla fullback sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way and rolled the ball back into the net, with the cameras almost instantly turning back to Messi.

Seemingly weighed down by the weight of his new-found status as a world champion, the Argentine skipper sunk to his feet almost in disbelief as he took it all in.

Messi wins 2023 Ballon d'Or title

It was this moment in Qatar that laid the foundation of what would be Messi's eighth Ballon d'Or title. The father of three beat Erling Haaland to the 2023 award in a glitzy ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on October 30.

At 36 years old, the Argentine became the second-oldest player ever to win the award behind Stanley Matthews. Messi won his first Ballon d'Or title in the 2009/2010 season and 14 years later, he has his eighth.

In the 14 years, he has only failed to make it to the podium on two different occasions, including last year, where he missed out on the nominations entirely after a lacklustre debut season with Paris Saint-Germain.

Lionel Messi's Ballon d'Ors over the years

It will, therefore, go down as one of the greatest 'ping-pong' stories in football history.

From winning seven titles to missing out on the nominees list to walking right back in and taking it for a record-extending eighth time. All way past your prime age?

Throughout the years, there have been outright and deserved victories, like when he pumped in 91 goals in the 2012 calendar year. But there have also been controversial declarations, most notably in 2010 when Wesley Sneijder's achievements could only earn him a fourth-place finish.

Despite Messi's record wins, including four consecutive ones between 2009 and 2013, the Inter Miami forward has remained humble throughout his journey from Rosario to the top of the football throne.

"I have said it many times: the Ballon d'Or is very important due to the recognition at the individual level, but I never gave it importance," he said, as quoted by the Mirror.

And on his fifth time of asking, he finally laid his hands on the trophy he wanted most when he prevented a Kylian Mbappe-inspired France from becoming back-to-back World Champions.

"I was lucky to have achieved everything in my career and after the World Cup, I'm thinking about that award much less, my biggest award was the World Cup."

To many, he is the Messiah of football. A rare gem among top-class footballers. Now in Major League Soccer, his magical moments are set to reduce significantly. He will almost certainly not compete for the Ballon d'Or title again, but at this point in time, he has nothing else to prove.

Don't be sad it is ending - be happy it happened.

How much money do Ballon d'Or winners get?

Sports Brief has also reported that Messi and all the other previous Ballon d'Or winners don't get paid for winning the prestigious award.

It is one of the few trophies that does not include a monetary value, but its benefits are magnanimous as football's top individual prize.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)