LIONEL Messi, 36, on Monday night, emerged as the 2023 Ballon d’Or winner for a record-extending eighth time.
At the ceremony held in Paris, it was a 3-man horse race among Messi, Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, and PSG and France forward Kylian Mbappe.
But, after the count of votes, Messi was announced the winner ahead of Erling Haaland who scored 52 goals last season to help City win the treble and Mbappe- the second man to score a World Cup final hat-trick who finished third.
The Argentina captain led his country to win the World Cup held last year in Qatar where he won the trophy for the first time for his country and bagged the Golden Ball award for the best player of the tournament.
The Inter-Miami captain stunned the world footballing scene in 2009 to win his first Ballon d’Or and dominated the scene, winning the title for four consecutive times; 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Messi, who won the title from France’s Karim Benzema, added his current title to his wins in 2015, 2019 and 2021.
He is currently the player who has won the title eight times. Close to him is 38-year-old Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won it five times.
In the female category, Barcelona midfielder Bonmati won the Women’s Ballon d’Or for the first time as she helped Spain to maiden World Cup glory in August and won a league and Champions League double at club level.
The best goalkeeper award was given to Argentina and Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who won the Yashin Trophy for the best goalkeeper in the world.
Despite emerging second in the best player of the year of the men’s category, Haaland’s outstanding performance last season earned him the Gerd Muller Trophy for his record-breaking goal haul last season.
Meanwhile, his team, Man City, were named the men’s club of the year for a second year running after winning the Treble.