Sixth Ballon d'Or for 'unnatural' Messi

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 4 Dec 2019

Lionel Messi said he hoped to carry on undimmed by age after claiming a record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award at the age of 32.

Megan Rapinoe took the women's award but was not at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris, unable to make the trip back to the country where she led the United States to World Cup victory in July.

However, Messi was there with his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, and two of their children to accept his first Ballon d'Or since 2015 and his sixth overall, one more than longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I hope I have several years left to keep enjoying my football," said Messi, who recalled winning the award for the first time at the age of 22. "These moments are all the more enjoyable because the moment when I have to retire is getting closer and that is difficult.

"All going well I'll have several years left but time seems to be flying and everything is happening very quickly.

"I hope to keep enjoying my football ... and all of this life that I have."

The Barcelona star finished ahead of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, with Ronaldo third, in the voting among a panel of journalists from around the world. "Unfortunately there are a couple of players like him who are a bit unnatural," Van Dijk said of Messi. "Six times Ballon d'Or - you need to respect greatness as well."

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