Lionel Messi has captured a record fifth Ballon d’Or in Zurich after claiming a landslide 41.3 per cent of votes from a panel of journalists, international coaches and captains. An organisation like FIFA always leaves open the possibility of a surprise but there was little disagreement when 2007 winner Kaká announced that the Barcelona and Argentina star was once more the best player in the world.
The Ballon d’Or ceremony remains one of the more bizarre events in the footballing calendar but despite it’s individualistic take on the game the modern rivalry between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has made the crowning of the winner all the more significant. Between the two they have lifted the prize since 2008, and after Real Madrid’s Portuguese striker took home the previous two, Messi rightly returned to the number one position earlier today.
“This is a very special moment for me to be back here on this stage again winning another Ballon d’Or,” Messi said during his acceptance speech.
“It’s incredible that it’s my fifth and is much more than anything I could have dreamed of as a kid. I want to thank all those who voted for me first of all. I also want to thank my team-mates, as I always say none of this would ever have been possible without them.
“And lastly, I want to thank football in general for everything it has brought me, both the bad and the good, because it has made me grow and learn always.”
Barcelona’s incredible treble-winning year and Messi’s spectacular individual statisitics made the 28-year-old a clear favourite. Scoring in six different club tournaments in 2015 aiding Barça to lift five of them, 52 goals and 26 assists from his 61 matches and helping Argentina to the Copa América final.
A trophy with La Albiceleste still eludes Messi and while there are those that claim that until he lifts a World Cup he cannot be called the greatest of all-time, these individual accolades continue to strengthen the view that the Argentina captain will surpass any other player. With a Copa América later this year and a World Cup in 2018, there are still chances for Messi and he admitted that, “I prefer to win the World Cup than five Ballon d’Ors. The team titles are above the individual ones – the best would be to win a World Cup.”
There were many moments when Messi further cemented his place as the best player in the world during 2015 but the spell when he toyed with Manchester City or when he left Jérôme Boateng on his backside en route to scoring the wonderful goal that helped dump Bayern Munich out of the Champions League were particular highlights.
Whether glory with Argentina follows, it is truly a privilege to watch football during the era of Lionel Messi.