Inter Miami’s Leo Messi has made history by becoming the first player to win the Ballon d’Or without currently playing in European football.
Messi added his 8th Ballon d’Or to his trophy cabinet, achieving a historic milestone in the process.
Many had anticipated Messi’s win, which was confirmed at 22:30 (CET time).
Leo had not lifted the award since 2021 and succeeded Karim Benzema, winner of the 2022 edition.
Messi’s triumph further distances him from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has five Ballon d’Or awards.
The two players competed head-to-head for the award while both were playing for FC Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
With both players now playing outside Europe, there was no sign of the Portuguese at the gala.
Messi continues to establish himself as one of the best players in world football, even amid competition from Haaland and Mbappe, two young players who look set to shape the future of the sport.
The Inter Miami player won his club’s first-ever title a few months ago and can add yet another accolade to his list of achievements.
He is also the first player since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the award after winning a World Cup.
Messi’s Ballon d’Or wins include 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2019, 2021, and 2023.
It’s worth noting that his most recent win took place on the same day as Maradona’s 63rd birthday, adding a special significance to the event.