Lionel Messi dedicates 8th Ballon d’Or to Maradona, Aitana Bonmati bags women's award

'Happy birthday Diego. This is for you too,' said Messi

Lionel Messi and Aitana Bonmati Lionel Messi and Aitana Bonmati wins Ballon d'Or 2023 | Reuters/AP

Argentina captain Lionel Messi, who led Argentina to 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, won a record eighth Ballon d'Or for the best player in the world at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on Monday, October 30. Aitana Bonmati won the women's Ballon d'Or.

The Inter Miami player, who beat Manchester City's Norwegian treble winner Erling Haaland to bag the prestigious prize, last won the award in 2021. "This is a gift to the whole Argentina team for what we achieved," said Messi as he received the award from David Beckham.

Read more: Ballon d'Or: Recent winners and runners-up

"Happy birthday Diego. This is for you too," Messi said, dedicating the trophy to football icon Diego Maradona, who would have celebrated his 63rd birthday on Monday.

"I couldnt imagine having the career that Ive had. Everything that Ive achieved. The fortune Ive had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. Its nice to win these individual trophies. To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing," he added.

Messi, who won his first Ballon d'Or in 2009, has now finished among the Top 3 on 14 occasions, according to Reuters. He has finished runner-up five times. Close behind him is Cristiano Ronaldo, who won five Ballon d'Or awards.

Barcelona's Spanish player Bonmati who won the women's trophy said winning the women's Ballon d'Or is a testimony to Spain's football culture. "Spain has something unique. In recent years we have achieved a lot with our clubs and the national team," said Bonmati as she succeeds Spanish player Alexia Putellas, who was also the 2021 winner.

-- with agency inputs

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