Ten days after scoring a magnificent winner against Atletico Madrid to go top of La Liga, Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on Monday.
As a result, he now surpasses Cristiano Ronaldo to become all-time winner of the coveted award.
Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk, who won the Champions League last season, which included a remarkable comeback against Barcelona, came second.
Buzz had been growing for weeks that the Argentine was a cert for soccer’s highest individual accolade.
Especially in Catalonia, where the autnomous province’s two main newspapers, Mundo Deportivo and SPORT, filled column inches with claims that the club and country captain had done enough to please the jury.
This of course consisted of 182 respected journalists worldwide, but as recent as last week, Mundo Deportivo insisted that France Football, the magazine that established the prize before being joined by FIFA in 2010, had already been in Barcelona to conduct an interview and photoshoot with the 32-year-old.
Messi’s stranglehold on the golden ball began in 2009, which is when he claimed the treble under Pep Guardiola and then set off on an unprecedented run of four straight wins that was interrupted by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Accepting the trophy, Messi said: “I would like to thank all the journalists to have voted for me, who wanted me to win this prize. Thank you so much to my colleagues from the club, and all my colleagues who have contributed a lot for this prize. It’s really amazing.”