Messi’s sixth Ballon d’Or
The Ballon d’Or was created by journalists, just as the European Cup - today’s Champions League - was, and came into existence in 1956 as an accompaniment to the competition. At first it was restricted to the best European players, which explains why neither Maradona nor Pele won it and why Di Stéfano and Sívori did – both were Argentines by birth but later gained Spanish and Italian nationalities, respectively. In 1995 (won that year by George Weah), it opened up to players from every continent. Despite the smattering of people who feel an individual award in a team sport is ridiculous, the whole thing is bigger than ever. FIFA have even tried, and failed, to imitate and assimilate it.
Messi's sixth Ballon d'Or
On Monday night the award, with all its unofficial significance, was given to Messi, with his beautiful goal against Atlético still fresh in our minds, at a ceremony that has become akin to the Christmas lightshow of European football. This was Messi’s sixth Ballon d’Or, a number that now sees him pull away from Cristiano, possibly for good because he is two and a half years his junior. Nevertheless, the competition between the two will go down in footballing legend, just as Messi’s six trophies will – who knows if it will be the last because with his untouchable excellence he seems to draw from a never-ending source that enables him to better navigate the implacable passing of time.
Voting for Van Dijk
I didn’t vote for Messi. I opted for Van Dijk, differentiating between who is the best player in the world, Messi, and who has been the best over the year, and taking into account, as the rules of the award stipulate, trophies and the player’s role in winning them. Van Dijk has been a rock and a key component in the rise of this Liverpool side, who won the Champions League last year, coming back from 3-0 down against Barcelona along the way. To boot, Messi didn’t shine in the Copa América the way he normally does in Spain. But his knack for amassing goals and the frequent wonders he produces weighed heavier in the voting across countries. I applaud his name being there once again because he ennobles an already magnificent award.
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