Paris Saint Germain forward Lionel Messi has been crowned the 2021 Men’s Ballon d’Or winner in a grand ceremony held at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris, France.
"I'm really proud to win the France Football Ballon d'Or once again. It's incredible to win it for the seventh time. I would like to thank my family, my friends and all the people who follow me and always support me because without them I couldn't have done it,” an elated Messi said.
Messi acknowledged Lewandowski should have won the award last year, before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the season midway, leaving no award given.
"I’d like to mention Robert, it’s been a real honour to compete with him. I think France Football should award you your 2020 Ballon d’Or, you deserved it," Messi said from the podium.
The 34-year-old saw his long wait for an international trophy end as Argentina beat hosts Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America final.
He was named Player of the Tournament and took home the competition’s Golden Boot after scoring four goals and registering five assists.
Apart from finishing as La Liga's top scorer in season 2020/21 (30), Messi also led Barcelona to a Copa Del Rey trophy, beating Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in the final.
He also won the award 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
In the women’s category, Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas was crowned the Ballon d’Or winner, after a spectacular season that saw the club win a treble - Liga de Fútbol Femenino, the Champions League and the Spanish Cup.
The 27-year-old scored 37 goals and made 27 assists.
Young Barcelona star Pedri took home the Kopa Trophy after being named the Best Under-21 player of the Year. The young Spaniard has featured immensely for his club and national side, including at the recently concluded Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Poland star Lewandowski was pleased to win the new award - Best Striker of the Year – after scoring 38 goals in 30 Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich, and totalling 53 this calendar year, more than any other player in Europe.
PSG’s young Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma won the ‘Yashin Trophy’ – Best Goalkeeper of the year, after standing in post for Euro 2020 winners Italy.
In another new award, Chelsea was named Club of the Year, after a stellar Champions League and Super Cup campaign under Thomas Tuchel.
Italian Jorginho, who came in third place, had a fantastic season with both Chelsea and Italy, after being pivotal in the teams that won the Champions League, the Super League and the European Championship.
How Ballon d’Or was decided:
France Football editors (organisers of the event) compile a 30-man shortlist, which is presented to a selection of international journalists from each nation. National team coaches and captains also get to decide on who wins.
They then choose their top five preferred players from the list and order them from first to fifth based on the overall view of the player’s career, collective (team) performances, individual performances and the player’s class during the year.
The winning player (from the selection) gets six points, with the second 4 points and the third, one.
The total points collected from every coach, captain and journalist are added together to decide the winner, second and third.