WATCH: Lionel Messi Win Record-Extending 8th Ballon d’Or Title, Aitana Bonmati Wins Women’s Award Lionel Messi after winning the Ballon d’Or for the 8th time. (Photo: AP)

Argentina legend Lionel Messi won a record-extending Ballon d’Or title for a remarkable 8th time in his glittering career, pipping the likes of Norway and Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and former PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe for the crown. This historic win came after Messi’s stellar role in leading Argentina to a FIFA World Cup 2022 victory in Qatar. Despite an average season with Paris Saint-Germain, this significant triumph made a difference.

Messi thanked his Argentina coach, teammates and staff for making his victory possible for him last year. “Tonight I’m enjoying myself. It’s a pleasure that will never leave me, and I hope to be able to enjoy it for many years to come,” Messi said through a translator on Monday night.

“Becoming world champion was the title we were missing. I’d like to thank everyone who helped make Argentina the world champion team,” he added.

WATCH Lionel Messi win the Ballon d’Or title for the 8th time HERE…

Messi also paid tribute to the late Argentinian legend Diego Maradona, who also helped his country win the World Cup, back in 1986. “This title and this trophy. I share them with you and all our Argentina comrades,” Messi said.

Aitana Bonmati secured the women’s award, recognized for her contribution in Spain’s Women’s World Cup win and Barcelona’s successes. Messi’s recognition came after an absence from the 2022 shortlist, but his World Cup performance, which saw him involved in 10 goals and netting twice in the final against France, sealed the deal.

Despite PSG’s Ligue 1 win, they faced an early Champions League exit. Messi’s recent relocation to Inter Miami brought him more silverware, marking a first for a Major League Soccer player to earn such a distinction. Presented by David Beckham, co-owner of Inter Miami, Messi shared his contentment with his new journey.

Portugal and Al Nassr striker Cristiano Ronaldo has clinched the Ballon d’Or five times, while legends like Michele Platini, Johan Cruyff, and Marco van Basten each have three to their names.

Meanwhile, after his World Cup hat-trick, Mbappe aspired for the Ballon d’Or, but France’s loss via penalties dampened hopes. Haaland’s spectacular season saw him net 52 goals and help Manchester City secure a treble.

Bonmati, preceding Alexia Putellas, had earned accolades earlier this year and edged out competitors like Sam Kerr and Salma Paralluelo. Reflecting on the wins, Bonmati commented on Spain’s deep-rooted passion for football.

Alterations in the Ballon d’Or criteria last year shifted focus from calendar-year performances to seasonal ones. Initiated in 1956 with Stanley Matthews, the women’s version started in 2018 but saw a 2020 hiatus due to the pandemic.

Among other accolades, Jude Bellingham was named the best under-21 player, and Haaland received the Gerd Müller award for his striking prowess. Emiliano Martinez’s Lev Yashin award for top goalkeeper came amid criticism for his post-World Cup celebrations, notably involving a taunting gesture towards Mbappe.

Vinicius Junior, a vocal advocate against racism, was honored with the Socrates humanitarian award for his dedication to underprivileged children.

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