It is a mainstay for fans in the football fixture list of gala’s and events, and Monday evening saw the 2023 edition of the Ballon d’Or set of prizes and accolades, and rather unsurprisingly, the absolute legend that is Lionel Messi once again picked up the biggest trophy on offer.
With the ceremony held in Paris, the 36 year old picked up the gong for the eighth time in his career and his success at finally lifting the Jules Rimet in the first ever winter World Cup held out in Qatar last year, undoubtedly featured highly in the decision to pick him once again – and pick him over the likes of Erling Haaland to name just one other player who has enjoyed an utterly incredible year given his performances in front of the net.
England and Real Madrid midfielder, Jude Bellingham, lifted the Kopa Trophy having been recognised as the world’s best player aged under 21. Having enjoyed an incredible spell in the German Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, and then certainly shined on the international stage for England manager Gareth Southgate, the £88.5 million signing by Spanish giants Real, has also made a cracking start to life in La Liga following his move this summer, and he currently boasts 13 goals in his opening 13 games.
Speaking after his latest recognition, the former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star explained.
“It’s nice to be here once more to enjoy this moment. To be able to win the World Cup and achieve my dream. I couldn’t imagine having the career I’ve had and everything I’ve achieved, the fortune I’ve had to be part of the best team in history. All of them [Ballon d’Or awards] are special for different reasons.”
French forward, Kylian Mbappe, came in third place behind Haaland who took second, and notably the fact he became only the second man to score a World Cup final hat trick in their 4-2 penalty defeat to Argentina, also proved to be a huge factor in that.
Many will think that Haaland is now a shoe in for next edition of the competition, particularly as he picked up the Gerd Muller Trophy for his goalscoring exploits. Despite his obvious talents, his age and the fact he now plys his trade in the American Major League Soccer division must rule him out of future votes, not least if the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of the shortlist this year for the first time since 2003, and he now plays for Al Nassr in the money rich Saudi Arabian Pro League.