#BalldOr: Messi And America's Rapinoe Win Awards

Lionel Messi was named the best player in the world for a record sixth time when he took home the Ballon d’Or at an awards ceremony in Paris...

Lionel Messi was named the best player in the world for a record sixth time when he took home the Ballon d’Or at an awards ceremony in Paris on Monday.
The Argentinian moved ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the trophy five times and finished third in the men’s rankings this time behind Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk. Megan Rapinoe, star of USA’s World Cup winning side, won the women’s award.

Messi, 32, received his first Ballon D’Or in 2009, and over the past decade has gone on to become the most celebrated player in football and perhaps the greatest to play the game. “Ten years ago I received my first Ballon d’Or, guided by my three brothers,” he said. “Today, I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children.

“As my wife says, it’s important to never stop dreaming and to always work to improve myself and continue to enjoy myself. I hope to continue to play for some time.

“I know I am very fortunate, even if, one day, I will have to retire. That will be difficult but I still have beautiful years in front of me.”

Van Dijk came second after a year in which the Netherlands defender won the Champions League with Liverpool and was a losing finalist in the Nations League.

“It was an amazing year but unfortunately there are a couple of players … that are unnatural,” he said. “You have to respect greatness.

“I was close but there was someone just a little bit better. I am happy with what I achieved and hopefully we can come back next year but it will be tough.”

Van Dijk was one of three Liverpool players in the top 10, alongside Sadio Mané, who finished fourth, and Alisson, who came seventh. Allison was also awarded the inaugural Lev Yashin prize for the year’s best goalkeeper, named after the Russian and the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or, in 1963.

Rapinoe beat England’s Lucy Bronze, who came second, and her fellow American Alex Morgan to the women’s award. The 34-year-old was unable to attend the ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet but the winger recorded a message and thanked her teammates for their support on and off the field during the World Cup, when she used the tournament to speak out against the US president Donald Trump.

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