Lionel Messi had late Argentina legend Diego Maradona in mind during his acceptance speech after receiving his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or award.
Messi was confirmed as the winner of the 2023 Golden Ball Award, edging out competition from closest challenger, Manchester City striker Erling Haaland.
He led Argentina to the 2022 FIFA World Cup triumph in Qatar, beating France in the final, the country’s first since the Diego Maradona-inspired victory at Mexico in 1986.
Lionel Messi recreated Diego Maradona’s 1986 pose after helping Argentina win the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP. Source: Getty Images
Per Goal, he was named the tournament’s best player, making history as the first player to win the World Cup Golden Ball twice, having won it in 2014 when he lost the final to Germany.
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Messi dedicates Ballon d’Or to Maradona
Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham was privileged to present the gong to Messi. During his acceptance speech via CBS Sports, he dedicated the award to Maradona on what could have been his 63rd birthday.
“Wherever you are, this is also for you. Happy birthday, Diego,” he said.
Maradona led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and coached the country to the 2010 Mundial in South Africa. He passed away on November 25, 2020.
Messi shares a special bond with the late legend, as he was seen as the heir apparent to him but has surpassed all expectations placed on him by the former Napoli legend.
It is poetic that on his posthumous birthday, the 36-year-old extended his record for the number of Ballon d’Or won.
5 reasons Messi beat Haaland
Sports Brief reported 5 reasons Messi beat Haaland to Ballon d’Or after the Inter Miami captain was officially confirmed as the winner at the Gala in Paris, France.
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The former Barcelona captain won the only trophy eluding his career, the FIFA World Cup and was Argentina’s main man, turning up in the big games, amongst other reasons.
Haaland admires Messi’s dribbling
Sports Brief reported on Haaland wanting one attribute in Messi ahead of their showdown for the coveted Ballon d’Or later next month.
The Manchester City star was asked to name any player and pick one attribute in them, and it was gracious for him to pick Messi and name his dribbling as one attribute he wanted.