Lionel Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or crown on Monday to move ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi has admitted he was hurt when Cristiano Ronaldo joined him on five Ballon d’Or trophies and revealed it is nice to be alone at the top. Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or crown on Monday, pipping Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk to the prestigious prize.
It was Messi’s first win of the Ballon d’Or since 2015 with Ronaldo having lifted his fifth back in 2017.
Ronaldo finished third this year with Messi earning the title having had another impressive season.
And the Barcelona star has explained why he is happy to have gone one ahead of his long-term rival.
“On the one hand, I appreciated having five and being the only one to do so,” Messi said.
“When Cristiano levelled me, I have to admit that it hurt me a bit.
“I was no longer alone at the summit. But it was logical, even if it is nice when you are alone on five.”
Messi’s win means the Ballon d’Or has been won by a La Liga player for the past 11 years.
The Argentine forward has won 10 La Liga and four Champions League titles during a glittering career.
He added: “Today is my sixth Ballon d’Or. It’s a completely different moment, lived with my family and my children.
“As my wife said, you must never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy. I am very lucky, I am blessed.
“I hope to continue for a long time. I realise that I am very lucky, even if, one day, retirement will ring. It will be difficult.
“But I still have beautiful years ahead of me. Time goes very quickly, so I want to enjoy football and my family.”
And Van Dijk acknowledged just how great his Ballon d’Or rivals have been over the years.
“It was an amazing year, but there’s a couple of players like that who are a bit unnatural,” Van Dijk said. “So you need to respect greatness as well.
“I was close, but there was just someone a little bit better.
“I’m very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool and Holland, and hopefully we can do that again this year. But that will be tough with those guys around here still.
“I never thought that I would be up for a Ballon d’Or until I was actually nominated. It shows a lot about how my career has been.
“My career has been different from the winner here, I came late, but I never gave up on my dreams.
“I had to work hard every step of the way, so to be here makes me very proud. And I want to work hard and be here again next year.”