Lionel Messi continues to break records seemingly every month and the greatest player of his generation won his fifth Ballon D’Or on Monday after leading Barcelona to the treble of league, cup and Champions League for the second time.
To put this into context, three of the greatest players such as Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho and Luis Figo only won the Ballon D’Or once and who knows how many Messi will have when he finally hangs up his boots.
Messi’s performances were, at times, mesmerising and his highlights from the past 12 months include his goal against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final, when he chipped Manuel Neuer from six yards, and his solo run against Atletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final.
His numbers were stunning, with 53 appearances for Barcelona over the calendar year yielding 48 goals and 23 assists. While Cristiano Ronaldo outscored him – 54 in 52 games for Real Madrid, – Messi’s goal scoring numbers would have been much higher had a hamstring injury not put him out of action for two months.
‘It is a very special moment for me to be back on this stage having watched Cristiano (Ronaldo) win it for the last two years,’ said Messi, who was clearly overcome when presented with the award in Zurich’s Kongresshaus.
‘It is incredible that it is my fifth Ballon D’Or, it more than anything I could have dreamed of when I was a kid. I want to thank all my team-mates as without them none of this would be possible. I also want to thank football for everything, both the good and the bad. It has made me learn.’
So what was Messi’s highlight of 2015? And what is the motivation to keep going when he has done everything there is to be done in Catalonia?
‘I try to beat my previous self and reach all our goals,’ said Messi. ‘Last year thankfully I managed to reach almost all of them. It was an amazing year that filled us with pride after such good work. It is hard to single out one moment. Our year was full of happiness and victories. It is hard to pick one.
‘These are good players (at Barcelona) with extraordinary quality. We hope that they are going to make us grow. I feel proud of having achieved everything that I have achieved, all my titles. It is always harder to win when you have won before. To come here for the ninth time is truly amazing.’