Former FC Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov (L) and FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu (R) arrive with players Lionel Messi (3-L), his wife Antonella Roccuzzo (2-L) and their children Thiago (front R) and Mateo, Frenkie De Jong (4-R) and his girlfriend Mikky Kiemeney, Antoine Griezmann (3-R) and Barcelona goalkeeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen (2-R) for the Ballon d'Or ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France, 02 December 2019. EFE/EPA/YOAN VALAT
Paris, December 3 (efe-epa).- Argentine striker Lionel Messi won his record sixth Ballon d'Or in Paris on Monday, pulling ahead of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, who has "only" five.
The Barcelona forward confirmed all the predictions that he was the outstanding favorite for this year's trophy, beating out Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk, from Holland, who came in second; Ronaldo himself, who plays for Juventus, in third place; and Senegalese forward - also with Liverpool, who had four players in the top 10 competitors for the award - Sadio Mane.
"Today is my sixth Ballon d'Or. It's a completely different moment, lived with my family and my children," Messi said after receiving the trophy. "As my wife said, you must never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy. I am very lucky, I am blessed."
"I hope to continue for a long time. I realize that I'm very lucky, even if, one day, retirement will ring. It will be difficult," he remarked.
"But I still have beautiful years ahead of me. Now, it seems that time flies and goes by very quickly. I want to continue enjoying soccer, my rivals, my family," said Messi, who won his first Ballon d'Or 10 years ago at age 22.
"In all this time I've never stopped dreaming, continuing to want to grow, to want to continue improving and to continue enjoying soccer, which is what I've loved since I was one or two years old, and may God give me several more years," he added.
Messi, known as "La Pulga" (the flea), also thanked his fellow teammates and Barcelona organization colleagues, calling 2019 "a great year, quite apart from winning or losing."
The Argentine striker collected the Ballon d'Or for the first time since 2015, after having seen Ronaldo win it twice and Luka Modric take it home in 2018, the honor being bestowed according to a vote by 176 sports journalists around the world and the list of candidates being prepared by France Football magazine.
Messi was also awarded FIFA's "The Best" award earlier this year.
Accompanied by his family and the top officials with FC Barcelona, the Argentine collected the trophy with a big smile on his face at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris from the hand of Modric, last year's winner.
Either Messi or Ronaldo has won the award in 11 of the past 12 years.
The Ballon d'Or has been awarded every year since 1956, although until 1995 France Football only gave it to European players, thereafter expanding it to players from anywhere in the world playing for European clubs. In 2007, the award was further democratized by opening it up to footballers playing anywhere in the world.