Ballon D'Or 2023: Messi Beats Haaland To Win For Eighth Time

 Lionel Messi of Inter Miami CF has won the Ballon d'Or for a record eighth time, beating out Manchester City forward Erling Haaland after leading Argentina to the World Cup last year.

Messi, 36, is the first MLS-based player to win the award, despite his success is partly due to his accomplishments with his country in Qatar. Former Manchester United star and Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham presented the award to Messi in Paris.

Haaland placed second in voting and won the Gerd Muller Trophy, given to the finest striker of the year, after scoring 52 goals last season as City won the Treble in 2022-23.

"I couldn't have imagined having the career I've had. "I'm proud of everything I've accomplished," Messi remarked after receiving his trophy. "What a blessing it has been to play for the best team in the world, the best team in history." It is good to take home these individual awards.

"Winning the Copa America and then the World Cup is incredible. "They [Ballon d'Or awards] are all unique for different reasons."

Prior to Messi earning his trophy, Aitana Bonmat, a Barcelona and Spain midfielder, won the Ballon d'Or Féminin following a record-breaking year with club and country. Last season, she helped Barça capture Liga F and the Champions League before leading Spain to World Cup victory.

Other honours presented on Monday included Messi's Argentina teammate Emiliano Martinez receiving the Yashin Trophy for best custodian and England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham receiving the Kopa Trophy as the world's greatest player under the age of 21.

Messi made a point of wishing Argentina's Diego Maradona a happy birthday during his acceptance speech. The 1986 World Cup champion, who died on November 22, 2020, would have been 63 years old on Monday.

"My last mention is for Diego [Maradona]," Messi said. "It's his birthday today. So I'd prefer to remember him from here, surrounded by the best players, coaches, and people who share his passion for football.

"Happy birthday, Diego, wherever you are." This also applies to you."

Even before Monday's presentation in Paris, no player had won the Ballon d'Or more than Messi, who won it in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, and 2021.

Cristiano Ronaldo has five titles, while Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, and Marco van Basten each have three.

Messi scored 21 goals in 41 games for Paris Saint-Germain last season before joining Inter Miami early this year.

He has scored 11 goals in 14 games for Miami since relocating to the United States, helping the team win its first piece of silverware, the Leagues Cup.

He did, however, miss several games due to injury near the close of the regular MLS season as Gerardo "Tata" Martino's team fell short in their late push for a playoff position.

Messi was crowned Player of the Tournament after leading Argentina to victory in Qatar, scoring seven goals and assisting three more.

He scored twice in the final and again in the penalty shootout against France as Lionel Scaloni's team won one of the competition's most memorable games.

After failing to win the World Cup with Argentina in the previous four tournaments, including the 2014 final against Germany, many saw this as his final chance.

He also becomes the second-oldest player in history to win the Ballon d'Or, replacing last year's winner Karim Benzema. Only the first champion, Stanley Matthews in 1956, was older, winning at the age of 41.

Messi earned his first six Ballons d'Or while playing for Barcelona, where he is the club's record goalscorer and appearance holder, and he won it for the seventh time shortly after joining PSG in 2021 following Argentina's Copa America championship.

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