Lionel Messi secures record of the sixth Golden Ball, Rapinoe wins the women's prize
PARIS: Lionel messi claimed a sixth male record Golden Ball Prize on Monday, beating Liverpool's top four nominees to claim the most prestigious individual soccer trophy.
The Argentine, who won the league title with Barcelona but only achieved third place in the Copa América with his country, joined his trophies of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
He beat Virgil van Dijk, the runner-up, and third place Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, who won the award five times.
Ten years ago I received my first Golden Ball, guided by my three brothers, Messi told the audience. Today I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children.
Sadio Mane, from Senegal, who with Van Dijk and his fellow nominees Alisson Becker from Brazil and Mohamed Salah from Egypt, helped Liverpool win the Champions League, was fourth in the survey of international journalists.
It was amazing, said Van Dijk. There are a couple of players like him (Messi) who are fantastic. I am proud of what I have achieved with Liverpool and the Netherlands. It will be difficult (to win the prize) when these boys are close.
Messi, whose sterling career was once again rewarded, and Ronaldo, between them had won 10 consecutive Golden Ball awards until Croatia's Luka Modric prevailed in 2018.
Megan Rapinoe earlier won the women's Golden Ball after leading the United States to a record-extending fourth World Cup title in France this year as they retained the trophy.
The 34-year-old midfielder, the leading player in the June to July tournament, succeeded Norway's Ada Hegerberg who did not participate in the World Cup.
Rapinoe was not present at the ceremony in the Theater du Chatelet, where the show 'An American In Paris' is on.
I'm so sad I can't make it tonight. It's absolutely incredible congrats to the other nominees. I can't believe I'm the one winning in this field, it's been an incredible year, Rapinoe said in a recorded message.
I want to thank my teammates and the United States federation.
The Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, a key player in the exciting Ajax Amsterdam race to the Champions League semifinals and now in Juventus, won the Kopa trophy for the best U21 male player.
Alisson, one of the four Liverpool players in the top seven for the men's Golden Ball , was awarded the new Yashin trophy for the best male goalkeeper of the year.
However, there was no trophy for the best player or goalkeeper U21.