Score another one for Lionel Messi. The Barcelona forward has won his sixth Ballon d’Or.
That’s a record, if you’re counting. And you’re forgiven if you’ve lost track of all of Messi’s achievements. There are just too many to count. Oh, and he’s only 32.
For the uninitiated the Ballon d’Or is given to the best performing male soccer (ahem, football for our European friends) player over the previous year.
Once, it was determined solely by journalists. Yeah, that didn’t feel quite right. Now, coaches and national team captains can vote, too, not just critics and scribes who get their kicks mainly by pounding on keyboards.
Back to Messi. He won this year’s award the old fashioned way. He earned it. Messi’s record over the past year is certainly impressive. He put the ball behind the goalkeeper 54 times for “club and country,” as the BBC describes it. If that wasn’t enough, the Argentinian, showed why he’s so loved in Spain, helping Barca win La Liga.
That’s the other thing. La Liga may very well be the toughest league on the planet. A player from La Liga has won the Ballon d’Or for the past 11 years. Not bad.
Messi has played for Barca in 700 games. He’s scored 614 goals. Is that even possible? That’s almost a goal a game. All of that has helped win 34 trophies, 10 La Liga, and four Champions League wins.
Now, you would think being one of the best players in the world and playing in one of the best leagues in the world would get to your head. (I know that I would definitely forget about the little people.)
Not Messi. This guy is the real deal. A guy who’s down to earth even though his fans think he has been sent from heaven.
“Today is my sixth Ballon d’Or. It’s a completely different moment, lived with my family and my children,” Messi said.
“As my wife said, you must never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy. I am very lucky, I am blessed.
Did I mention he’s only 32? So, that means he still has a lot of years ahead of him right? If we’re lucky. But even on a day when he’s hailed as one of the greatest the Beautiful Game has ever seen, he thinks about his future. And it may not be as long as his fans would hope.
He says he thinks about retirement. (No, dear fans, he is not immortal.) But for now, he still thinks just about the game.
“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.”
There it is, again. A nod to his family. If there was a Ballon d’Or for being a class act, he would win that too.