In a show of rising young talent, England’s Jude Bellingham, who plays for Real Madrid, was honored with the Kopa Trophy, celebrating the world’s finest player under the age of 21. Messi’s achievement surpassed competition from Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and France’s Kylian Mbappe, who made history with a World Cup final hat-trick.
Messi expressed his gratitude, saying, "It’s nice to be here once more to enjoy this moment," adding, "To be able to win the World Cup and achieve my dream." He reflected on his incredible career, hailing the fortune of being part of the "best team in history."
Erling Haaland, the Norwegian international, was acknowledged for his goal-scoring prowess with the Gerd Muller Trophy. Haaland’s record-breaking 36 league goals in 35 games helped secure a Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup treble for Manchester City. In his speech, he thanked Manchester City and his support network for shaping his journey.
With this eighth Ballon d’Or win, Messi continues to distance himself from the competition, having claimed three more titles than anyone else. Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, didn’t make the shortlist for the first time in nearly two decades.
The Yashin Trophy for the world’s best goalkeeper went to Emiliano Martinez, the Argentine World Cup champion and Aston Villa’s shot-stopper. Despite his accomplishments, he faced some jeers at the Paris ceremony, likely due to a controversial celebration following their World Cup win against France.
For the second consecutive year, Manchester City was named the Club of the Year, becoming the second English club to secure a Treble. They had seven players nominated for the Ballon d’Or.
Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr was recognized with the Socrates Award for his commitment to combating racism in football. The Brazilian winger, who has experienced racist abuse in La Liga, started a foundation that builds schools and invests in education in impoverished areas.
David Beckham, the former England and Manchester United midfielder, paid tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton before presenting Messi with the Ballon d’Or. Sir Bobby Charlton, a legendary figure in football, recently passed away at the age of 86. Beckham highlighted Sir Bobby’s tremendous impact, both on and off the field, acknowledging that he played a pivotal role in his career and owed him everything.