June 21st, 2024

Messi wins record-extending 8th Ballon d’Or, Bonmati takes women’s award

By The Associated Press on October 30, 2023.

Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal from a penalty kick during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

PARIS (AP) – This list reads 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021, and now 2023.

Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or for a record-extending eighth time on Monday after fulfilling his life’s ambition by leading his country to the World Cup title in Qatar last year.

Adding to his silverware the one major trophy that eluded him in his storied career was the decisive factor in an otherwise quite mundane season – for his standards – at Paris Saint-Germain.

The 36-year-old Messi won ahead of Manchester City forward Erling Haaland and his former PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe.

Aitana Bonmati won the women’s award for guiding Spain to victory at the Women’s World Cup in August. She also helped Barcelona win the Women’s Champions League and Spanish league.

A year after missing out on the shortlist for the 2022 Ballon d’Or, and despite leaving top-level European soccer behind, Messi has recovered his crown.

He won the sport’s biggest individual prize due to his tremendous World Cup. In Qatar, Messi was involved in 10 goals for Argentina, scoring seven and assisting three. He scored twice in the final against France.

His final season with PSG was less shiny. Although PSG won a record-extending 11th French league, it again exited the Champions League in the round of 16.

Since moving to Inter Miami in the United States, Messi has already picked up his first silverware there by inspiring the team to victory in the U.S. Leagues Cup.

Messi succeeded Karim Benzema.

Mbappe hoped another Frenchman could win the Ballon d’Or after he scored a hat trick in the World Cup final, though France lost in a penalty shootout.

Haaland led City to a treble of trophies last season – Champions League, English Premier League, FA Cup – while scoring 52 goals.

Bonmati had already been awarded UEFA best women’s player and the Golden Ball for the top Women’s World Cup player. She scored three times and assisted twice at the tournament.

Bonmati followed in the footsteps of her teammate Alexia Putellas, who took the past two awards.

Bonmati won ahead of Sam Kerr and Salma Paralluelo.

“We are a country that lives football, intensely,” Bonmati said. “We have a unique talent in Spain.”

For the first time last year, the trophy awarded by France Football magazine was based on achievements from the past season. It was previously awarded based on performances through a calendar year. Stanley Matthews won the first Ballon d’Or in 1956.

The women’s trophy was created in 2018, and both were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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