Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been crowned as the Ballon d’Or winner for the world’s best player for a record sixth time.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award five times, finished third on the podium, behind Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk with Messi taking home the gong.
Messi scored 54 goals for club and country across 2018-19, helping the Blaugrana to the league title for a second successive year, to ensure he won the award for the first time since 2015.
Van Dijk was one of four Liverpool players in the top seven of the list, with Senegalese forward Sadio Mane ranked in fourth position.
Speaking in the midst of a world media circus and tightly clutching his award, Messi said:
‘I am very grateful to the people of Barcelona and all the affection they show to me. It’s a special day and this award means so much and I am very happy.
‘The truth is that the routine doesn’t allow me much time to stop and think and enjoy all that we have achieved. I will enjoy it today and enjoy time with my family, then start thinking about what is coming next, as I always do.
‘I will think about all I have achieved as soon as I have time. But at the moment everything is going so fast that I can only think about the next game.’
He later added:
‘As we saw in the video it was ten years ago when I received my first Balon d’Or in Paris. I remember that I came with my three siblings. I was 22-years-old. It was unthinkable what I was experiencing.
‘Now ten years later I’m receiving the sixth one in a totally different, very special, moment in my life with my wife and my three sons who am I lucky enough to have here with me tonight along with my brother and one of the many nephews that I have and as my wife said in the message in all this time I have never stopped dreaming and desiring to keep growing and keep getting better day after day and above all keep enjoying football.
‘I am conscious of my age and I enjoy these moments much more because the moment of my retirement gets closer and it’s difficult but I repeat that I think I’ve got a few years left. But right now it seems that time flies, everything goes very quickly. But I just want to keep enjoying my football and my family, the rivals and my life.’
The Argentine has netted a remarkable 614 goals for the Blaugrana across a glittering career in which he has won 34 trophies, including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies.
Messi took home the Ballon d’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, and has featured among the top three finalists more times (11) than any other player.