Lionel Messi has claimed his sixth Ballon d’Or to once again move ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo in number-race, and he has divulged that he did feel hurt when the Juventus star levelled with him on five Ballon d’Or titles in 2017.
Luka Modric received the award in 2018, hence breaking the Messi and Ronaldo duopoly, before Messi’s achievement this year.
“On one hand, I liked having five and being the only one who did,” the Barcelona captain explained in an interview with France Football, the organiser of the award.
“When Cristiano Ronaldo pulled level with me, I’ll admit that it hurt a little as I was no longer alone at the top.
“But, at that moment he deserved the Ballon d’Or and I couldn’t do much more about it.
“I understand why I didn’t win, as we hadn’t won the Champions League and winning that competition gives you a better chance of winning the Ballon d’Or.
“When Cristiano Ronaldo was winning all the [individual] trophies it was because he’d had really good seasons and had been winning the Champions League, being decisive as his team did so.”
The question of who the best player ever is was also put to Messi. He answered, “It is truly difficult to say. There have been other great players in other eras, and it is always difficult to compare them with current players, like Cristiano, like ‘Ney,’ and Mbappé. Each person has their own preference. Honestly, I do not know if I am the best player in the history of football. I have been fortunate enough to win the Ballon D’Or once more, to be alone with 6 titles, and that makes me very happy.”
Messi also pointed out during the interview that he shouldn’t be evaluated purely on his goal tallies. “I’m a constructor, not a goalscorer,” he stated. Finally, he insisted that he prefers team silverware over individual recognition.
“Once again I’ll say that team trophies are more important, even if individual ones are really valuable,” the Argentine said. “Everyone views the Ballon d’Or in their own way. “At top-level sport, it’s true that you do always want to win.”