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Lionel Messi crowned 2019 Ballon d’Or winner one ahead of Ronaldo

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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was second, ahead of Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo and fellow Reds forward Sadio Mane

Lionel Messi says winning one Ballon d’Or, let alone six, was ‘unthinkable’ after picking up his latest award in Paris

Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has won the Men’s Ballon d’Or for a sixth time.

Messi was involved in 63 goals in total in the past 12 months for both club and country, including 46 goals and 17 assists as the playmaker helped Barca to retain their La Liga crown.

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“I would like to thank all of the journalists who voted for me and wanted me to have this prize,” said Messi after picking up the award in Paris on Monday night alongside his two sons and wife.

“Thank you so much to my colleagues who have actually contributed a lot to this prize. It is amazing, thank you so much.”

I hope to continue for a long time. I realise that I am very lucky, even if, one day, retirement will ring. It will be difficult. But I still have beautiful years ahead of me. Time goes very quickly, so I want to enjoy football and my family.

Lionel Messi

Messi was presented with the gong by 2018 winner Luka Modric and that means as well as this year, the Argentina international has also won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

Messi’s incredible career in numbers

701 – appearances for Barcelona
614 – goals for Barcelona, including a record 428 in LaLiga.
91 – goals scored in 2012, breaking the calendar-year record set by German Gerd Muller in 1972.
52 – career hat-tricks; 46 for Barcelona, six for Argentina.
138 – caps for Argentina.
70 – goals for Argentina, his nation’s all-time leading scorer. That tally includes his two in the 2008 Olympics.
10 – La Liga titles with Barcelona.
4 – Champions League wins.
6 – times he has won the Ballon d’Or, as the world’s best player (in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019).
2 – Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only players to have won more than three Ballon d’Or awards.
34 – trophies won with Barca.
2008 – Olympic gold in Beijing is Messi’s only major honour with Argentina.
47 – seconds into his Argentina debut before he was sent off, against Hungary in 2005, aged 18, after coming on as a substitute.
67 – Messi’s height in inches (5ft 7in).
16 – Age at which Messi made his Barcelona first-team debut.

Van Dijk the runner-up

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was runner-up behind Messi

The Barca captain beat Liverpool’s Netherlands centre-back Virgil van Dijk into second place, while his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo was third in the voting, with Liverpool forward Sadio Mane fourth.

“It was an amazing year, but there’s a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural,” said Van Dijk, of Messi and Ronaldo.

“So you need to respect greatness as well. I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better.

“I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and the Netherlands, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still.”

2019 Ballon d’Or top 10

Lionel Messi
Virgil van Dijk
Cristiano Ronaldo
Sadio Mane
Mohamed Salah
Kylian Mbappe
Robert Lewandowski
Bernardo Silva
Riyad Mahrez

‘I want to be here again next year’

Van Dijk celebrates scoring his first goal against Brighton

Van Dijk admitted he had never expected to be in the running for the prestigious title.

“I never thought that I would be up for a Ballon d’Or until I was actually nominated,” said Van Dijk.

“It shows a lot about how my career has been. My career has been different from the winner here, I came late, but I never gave up on my dreams.

“I had to work hard every step of the way, so to be here makes me very proud. And I want to work hard and be here again next year.”

Alisson, De Ligt scoop awards

Alisson Becker won the Copa America with Brazil and the Champions League with Liverpool this year

Meanwhile, Van Dijk’s Liverpool team-mate Alisson won the inaugural Yashin Trophy for the best goalkeeper, ahead of Barca’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Manchester City No 1 Ederson.

The other winner in the French capital was Juventus’ summer signing Matthijs de Ligt, who took home the Kopa Trophy for the best U21 player of the past year.

Matthijs de Ligt won the Kopa Trophy

The Netherlands international, 20, claimed the award ahead of Borussia Dortmund’s England forward Jadon Sancho after helping his previous club Ajax to last season’s Eredivisie title and the Champions League semi-finals.

story by skysports.com

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