Ballon d'Or 2019: Lionel Messi beats Virgil Van Dijk for record sixth award, Megan Rapinoe wins women's prize [Photos]
At a glittering ceremony in Paris, Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe took top honours to win the male and female Ballon d'Or Awards. Matthijs de Ligt was adjudged the best U-21 player and Alisson Becker as the best keeper.
Lionel Messi claimed a record sixth Ballon d’Or award beating Liverpool’s leading nominees and Cristiano Ronaldo to lift football's most prestigious individual trophy. The Argentine added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 trophies. “I am very lucky, I am blessed. I hope I will continue for a long time. I realise that I’m lucky even if one day it will be time to retire,” said Messi after picking up the award. (AP)
Megan Rapinoe won the women’s Ballon d’Or after leading the United States to a record-extending fourth World Cup title in France this year as they retained the trophy. The 34-year-old midfielder, the standout player at the June-July tournament, succeeded Norway’s Ada Hegerberg who did not take part in the World Cup. (AP)
Alisson Becker, one of the four Liverpool players in the top seven for the men’s Ballon d’Or, was awarded the new Yashin trophy for the best male goalkeeper of the year. Runner-up was Marc-André ter Stegen and third was Ederson Morães. The trophy is named after the late Lev Yashin (Yachine) who won the Ballon d'Or in 1963 and remains the only goalkeeper to have won the award. (AP)
Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, a key player in Ajax Amsterdam’s thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals and now at Juventus, won the Kopa trophy for the best Under-21 male player. De Ligt beat Jadon Sancho and Joao Felix, who finished second and third, to become the second winner of the Kopa Trophy. (AP)
Virgil Van Dijk, who had won the UEFA Player of the Year, was hoping to become the first defender to win the Ballon d’Or since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. “It was amazing,” said Van Dijk. “There are a couple of players like him (Messi) who are fantastic. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with Liverpool and Holland. It’s going to be tough (to win the award) when these guys are around.” (AP)
Away from the Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris, Ronaldo was at the Gran Gala del Calcio in Milan to collect his prize as Italian league’s player of the year. “I’m very happy to play in Italy, it’s a very difficult league. Thanks to everyone for having voted for me. I want to do as well this year, too,” he said upon collecting the award. (AP)