Lionel Messi picked up a record-extending 8th Ballon d’Or on Monday night at a glamorous awards ceremony in Paris, with the Argentine obviously being the firm favourite heading into the ceremony having led his country to their third World Cup success and first since 1986 at the most recent tournament held in 2022, but many people were aggrieved at the fact that Manchester City’s Erling Haaland missed out on the award despite the Norwegian scoring over 50 goals last season as part of what was a treble-winning season for the club.
But the moment that the final whistle blew at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar in December of last year, was probably when Messi's 8th Ballon d'Or was sealed. The narrative was simply too fitting, and too great. The World Cup is the creme de la creme of football. It was the one thing that the magical Argentine had not won in his long and distinguished career. And yet, he had finally won it at what then seemed like last chance saloon, in one of the most dramatic matches of football, and after so much heartbreak previously - after Mario Gotze's late winner in 2014 at the Maracana, and after future teammate Kylian Mbappe would run Messi and his men ragged at Russia 2018.