Lionel Messi, an Argentine football legend, has once again etched his name in football history by winning the Ballon d’Or for the eighth time. The Ballon d’Or is the pinnacle of awards to win as a soccer player and to do so eight times is phenomenal. Winning it this year grants him a new record, becoming “the first MLS-based player to claim the coveted prize,” though “the triumph comes largely on the back of his exploits with his country in Qatar.” This historic performance displays Messi's international class, even at 36 years old, and challenges the myth that players who transfer to the MLS lose their competitiveness.
While winning the award, Messi proudly remarked, "I couldn't imagine having the career that I've had. Everything that I've achieved.” His immense journey started when he was a passionate young football player from Rosario, Argentina, and has since become a legend in the sport. Even before Monday's ceremony in Paris, no player had ever won the Ballon d'Or more times than he did. He first won it in 2009 and then again in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, and 2021. These extraordinary achievements highlight the consistency of his football career.
However, what truly reaches the audience is his humility and dedication to the sport, and it is those traits that will make his legacy endure for generations to come. An example of his humility can be seen at the awarding ceremony, where he respected a player who came before him. “During his acceptance speech, Messi made a point of wishing Argentina countryman Diego Maradona happy birthday.” His reverence for Maradona, a soccer icon who came before him and wore the same jersey, shows his genuine appreciation for those who paved the way before him.
In winning the Ballon d'Or for the eighth time, Messi not only made history but has reignited the age-old debate of who the greatest footballer of all time is. His name is almost always mentioned in the same breath as other legends like Pelé and Diego Maradona, and his eighth Ballon d'Or win certainly strengthens his case for that title. The comparisons and debates will continue, but there is no denying that Messi's consistency and longevity at the highest level of the sport set him apart, making his legacy an enduring testament to the beauty and brilliance of football.