Paris Saint-Germain and Argentine star Lionel Messi on Monday won the men’s Ballon d’Or award for record-extending 7th time, ending the year, in which he won his first major international trophy with his country, in style. The 34-year-old Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title in July after losing in four major international finals.
“I’m very happy to be here, happy to keep fighting for new trophies,” he said through a translator, the Associated Press reported. “I don’t know how many years I have left, but I hope many more. I’d like to thank all my (former) teammates at Barcelona and Argentina.”
Messi finished with 613 points to top prolific Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski on 580. Although the Polish talisman was touted to edge La Pulga to the award, the international trophy might have swept away the votes towards Messi.
“I would like to say to Robert that it’s an honour to be your rival, and everyone would say you deserved to win it last year,” Messi said.
When Lewandowski, 33, scored in the final minute of the game, he set a new Bundesliga single-season scoring record with 41 goals, one more than late Germany great Gerd Müller.
Also Read | Ballon d’Or 2021: Full list of award winners
From February to September, Lewandowski scored in 19 consecutive games in all competitions for Bayern, narrowly missing out on tying the Bundesliga record of 16 games in a row. In total, he has 25 goals for Bayern in 20 games this season.
This year, he scored 11 goals in 12 games for Poland, bringing his total to 74 goals in 128 appearances, just six fewer than Messi.
Meanwhile, Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho was third with 460 points after helping the London club win the Champions League and his nation win the European Championship. Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema was fourth on 239.
Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been given out to men every year since 1956 when Stanley Matthews won.