- Lionel Messi has admitted that Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski deserved to win the 2020 Ballon d’Or
- The award ceremony was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic despite Lewandowski being the favourite to win
- However, Lewandowski was awarded the Striker of the Year award for his performances in 2021
Lionel Messi was the first to admit that Robert Lewandowski deserved a Ballon d’or during the award ceremony on Monday, November 29.
The Argentine was crowned the winner of the Ballon d’or , winning the coveted award for a record seventh time.
Messi was always favourite to win the award going into the ceremony, although there was stiff competition from Lewandowski, who had a stellar year 2020 and 2021.
Upon receiving his award, Messi showed some class by giving a shout-out to his closest rival Lewandowski, saying the Polish striker should have won the award last year.
There was no Ballon d’Or awards in 2020 as France Football cancelled the ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I’d like to mention Robert, it’s been a real honour to compete with him," Messi said on stage.
"I think France Football should award you your 2020 Ballon d’Or, you deserved it."
In the wake of the cancellation of the Ballon d’Or awards in 2020, Lewandowski made his feelings known on missing out on what was arguably his best chance at being crowned the best player on the planet.
He scored 53 goals in all competitions in 2021 for Bayern Munich and did not walk empty-handed on Monday as he was recognized with the Striker of the Year prize, an award that was announced only hours before the Ballon d’or ceremony.
“Incredible to be here”
Speaking on his feat, Messi admitted that he thought his 2019 accolade would be his last.
"Two years ago I thought it was the last time. People were starting to ask me when I was going to retire but now I'm here in Paris and very happy,” the 34-year old said.
"It's a special year for me with this Copa America title. It meant a lot to win [1-0 against Brazil in the final] at the Maracana stadium and I was so happy to celebrate with the people from Argentina.
"I don't know if it's the best year of my life - I've had a long career - but it was a special one with the title with Argentina after the tough times and the criticism."
Other winners of the night
Another Paris Saint Germain player, Gianluigi Donnarumma, was also feted as he won the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper, while Barcelona youngster Pedri won the Kopa Trophy for the best player aged under 21.
Thanks to their Champions League triumph in May, Chelsea were named the Club of the year.
Ronaldo finishes 6th in Ballon D'Or 2021
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo fell out of reckoning in this year’s tightly contested Ballon d’Or as the Manchester United striker finished in sixth position.
The 36-year-old scored 29 goals for Juventus in the Serie A last season and has continued with his blistering form since he returned to Manchester United on summer transfer window deadline day.
CR7 has scored 10 goals in all competition so far this season, but that did not take him past sixth position on the night the 2021 Ballon d’Or was handed to Lionel Messi.
Messi has now won the prestigious individual prize for a seventh time having after inspiring Argentina to Copa America glory.