ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi was awarded the 2019 Ballon d’Or award on Monday, becoming the first player in history to win the prestigious prize six times.
In a star-studded ceremony in Paris, hosted by former Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, male and female footballers were awarded for their achievements during the 2018/2019 season.
The highlight of the night was indeed Messi being named footballer of the year, beating Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished second and third, respectively.
“To the journalists and colleagues with whom I win and lose, I remember my first Ballon d’Or in Paris, when I arrived with my brothers, now I pick up the sixth, and this was absolutely unthinkable,” Messi said on stage upon receiving the award.
The 32-year-old Barcelona forward acknowledged his age and said retirement “is approaching,” but emphasized that he would “never stop dreaming and enjoying football like when I was a child.”
Meanwhile, United States Women’s National Team captain and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe was crowned the best female player, winning the second-ever women’s Ballon d’Or.
Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt won the Kopa Trophy for the best under-21 player, while Liverpool and Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker won the inaugural Yachine trophy for best goalkeeper.
The Ballon d’Or prize is voted by 173 journalists from across the globe.
FIFA, the governing body of world football, discontinued its association with the award after it had ties with the Ballon d’Or for six years.