Lionel Messi added to his trophy collection and made history on Monday when he won his eighth Ballon d’Or award, the highest individual honor a soccer player can receive.
The 36-year-old Argentinian World Cup champion and Inter Miami star became the first person to win the award eight times. He also won in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021.
Messi accepted the 18-karat golden soccer ball trophy at a star-studded ceremony in Paris. He arrived on the red carpet in a black tuxedo with a bow tie, and was joined by his wife, Antonela, and their three young sons, Thiago, Mateo, and Ciro, all of them in tuxes.
Inter Miami co-owners David Beckham and Jorge Mas also attended, as did Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber. Beckham presented Messi with the award.
“I want to share this with all my teammates from Argentina; this is a gift for the entire team of Argentina and all the people of Argentina,” Messi said in his acceptance speech. He also congratulated runners-up Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe and thanked all his fans around the world and his family.
The Ballon d’Or voting journalists base their decision on performances from August 1 of one year to July 31 of the next, so Messi edged out Norwegian phenom Haaland, who won the treble with Manchester City in 2022-23. Haaland won the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup, and scored 52 goals in 53 games for City, including a Premier League record 36 in 35 league games. He was awarded the Gerd Muller Trophy for top striker.
Messi scored fewer goals than Haaland during 2022-23 but led Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title, the only trophy that had eluded him during his storied career. And he dominated the tournament in Qatar, winning the Silver Shoe with seven goals and three assists in seven games. Messi scored in the round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and in the dramatic final against France.
He also scored 21 goals and had 16 assists for Paris Saint Germain in league play, four goals in Champions League, and 10 goals for Argentina in five World Cup warmup matches.
Messi was scheduled to join his teammates on a trip to China later this week to play in at least one exhibition match, but the tour has been canceled due to complications with the promoter, according to Argentine reporter Gaston Edul of TyC Sports. Inter Miami had no official comment on the status of the China trip.
Messi became the first active Major League Soccer player to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or since Beckham, who received nominations in 2007 but not enough votes to finish in the Top 30. Messi finished third in voting that year, behind winner Kaka of Brazil and runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal.
Ronaldo won the first of his five Ballons d’Or in 2008 while at Manchester United. For the next decade, either Messi or Ronaldo won the award, and then Luka Modric broke the streak in 2018. Messi went on to win in 2019 and 2021, and France’s Karim Benzema won in 2022. The award was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID.
Michel Platini, Marco van Basten and Johan Cruyff each won it three times. Franz Beckenbauer, Alfredo Di Stefano, Kevin Keegan, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Ronaldo of Brazil each won twice.
Other award winners Monday included Women’s World Cup champion Aitana Bonmati of Spain and FC Barcelona (Women’s Ballon d’Or), Jude Bellingham of England and Real Madrid (Kopa Trophy for top player Under age 21) and Emi Martinez of Argentina and Aston Villa (Yashin Trophy for top goalkeeper).