A new historic coronation, synonymous with an all-time record: Argentina’s Lionel Messi won the sixth Golden Ball of his rich career on Monday at a ceremony in Paris, where American Megan Rapinoe won the most prestigious individual distinction in women’s football.
With this sixth title of best player on the planet (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019), Messi (32 years old) is now alone in the world in front of his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo (5 Ballons d’Or) and other legends like Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, Marco Van Basten (3 Golden Balloons).
The Théâtre du Châtelet, host of the ceremony of the 2019 edition organized by the weekly France Football, finally played a classic score again sacring a great regular to succeed Luka Modric.
“You must never stop dreaming, never stop working,” greeted “Leo”, feeling “blessed”. “I think I still have good years in front of me even if the retreat is coming in. I’m also happy to write the story, the story of my club that I love so much,” FC Barcelona.
“The Pulga”, already winner of the Fifa The Best this year, ahead of its main outsiders Virgil van Dijk (28 years, 2nd) and Sadio Mané (27 years, 4th), who have yet triumphed with Liverpool in the Champions League, habitual justice of the peace in odd years. And Ronaldo completes the podium (3rd).
If Messi stopped in the semifinals of C1 before winning the championship of Spain, he scored 36 goals last season, synonymous with 6th European Golden Shoe that rewards the top scorer in all championships.
Considered the best central defender in the world and one of the major builders of the historic “Reds” season, Van Dijk has finally failed to beat Messi like at the UEFA Cup of the Year award last August .
– Golden year for Rapinoe –
AFP / FRANCK FIFE
Like the players of the team of France (Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, Raphael Varane) after the title of world champion last year, the dispersion of the votes in favor of the other stars of Liverpool, Mané, Mohamed Salah (5th), or Alison Becker (7th), was fatal.
Senegal’s Mané, also the league’s top scorer in the league with Liverpool and vice-champion of Africa with his selection, was also acclaimed by many observers and former players to succeed George Weah, the only African player to win this price in 1995.
He finally finished off the podium, just behind the eternal Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus Turin), after the vote of a global jury of nearly 180 journalists. Third African player in the Top 10, Algerian Riyad Mahrez finishes 10th. Never seen.
On the women’s side, the American Rapinoe, star of the World Cup-2019 overflown by the “Team USA”, concluded her golden year with a new prestigious trophy.
The 34-year-old finished top scorer in the World Cup in France. Also named best player of the tournament, the American star had won the prize Fifa The Best Milan in late September.
Rapinoe, whose stature has surpassed the ground to become an opposition icon to US President Donald Trump, succeeds Norway’s Ada Hegerberg, who received the first Women’s Golden Ball in history in 2018.
– Alisson, first best goalkeeper –
A figure in the struggle for LGBT rights and gender equality, Rapinoe could not be present in Paris to receive his trophy because of “personal obligations”.
AFP / Archives / FRANCK FIFE
“But I will do my best to be present next year,” she said in a video message, a sign of her motivation to keep her trophy.
Two other distinctions were awarded this year as part of the Golden Ball, with the Raymond Kopa Trophy for the best player under 21, and the Lev Yachine Trophy, rewarding for the first time goaltenders.
The French Kylian Mbappé (20), winner of the first Kopa Prize last year, could not succeed himself for having exceeded the age limit of a few days.
First French player in the 2019 Ballon d’Or ranking, ahead of Antoine Griezmann (18th), Hugo Lloris (23rd) and Karim Benzema (26th), Mbappé handed the trophy to his successor Matthijs de Ligt (20) , one of the pillars of the epic Ajax Amsterdam on the European scene last year.
On goalkeepers, the Yachine trophy fell into the gloves of Brazilian goalkeeper “Reds” Alisson Becker, to the detriment of Barcelona’s German Marc-André ter Stegen. Not surprising at all levels.
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