Megan Rapinoe has won the women’s Ballon d’Or after leading the United States to a record-extending fourth World Cup title in France this year — while Lionel Messi picked up a record sixth award.
- Rapinoe was the star of this year’s World Cup, which her USA team won
- Lionel Messi now holds a record six Ballon d’Or trophies
- Sam Kerr was the highest ranked Australian, in seventh
Australia’s Sam Kerr finished seventh in voting, after dazzling at club level for Perth Glory in the W-League and Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL.
Kerr also scored five goals at the World Cup, despite the Matildas’ disappointing campaign, which saw them knocked out in the round of 16 — a result that likely dented her chances of winning the Ballon d’Or.
Rapinoe, the standout player at the June-July tournament, succeeded Norway’s Ada Hegerberg who did not take part in the World Cup.
England’s Lucy Bronze and the US’s Alex Morgan completed the podium.
Rapinoe, 34, was not present at the ceremony in the Theatre du Chatelet.
Kerr may have fared better in voting if Australia had progressed further in the World Cup. (Reuters: Eric Gaillard)
“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,” she said in a recorded message.
“I want to thank my teammates and the US federation.”
Messi beats out Liverpool contingent
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi now has more Ballon d’Ors than any other player. (Reuters: Christian Hartmann)
Messi beat Liverpool’s four leading nominees to claim men’s football’s most prestigious individual trophy.
The Argentine, who won the Liga title with Barcelona but only managed third place in the Copa America with his country, added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 trophies.
He beat Virgil van Dijk, the runner-up, and third-placed Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, who has won the award five times.
“Ten years ago I received my first Ballon d’Or, guided by my three brothers,” Messi told the audience. “Today I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children.”
Senegal’s Sadio Mane, who with Van Dijk and fellow nominees Alisson Becker of Brazil and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah helped Liverpool win the Champions League, was fourth in the poll of international journalists.
“It was amazing,” said Van Dijk. “There are a couple of players like him (Messi) who are fantastic. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with Liverpool and Holland. It’s going to be tough (to win the award) when these guys are around.”
A host of Liverpool stars ranked highly, with Virgil van Dijk finishing second. (AP: Peter Byrne)
Messi, whose sterling career was once again rewarded, and Ronaldo between them had won 10 consecutive Ballon d’Or awards until Croatia’s Luka Modric prevailed in 2018.
Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, a key player in Ajax Amsterdam’s thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals and now at Juventus, won the Kopa trophy for the best under-21 male player.
Alisson, one of the four Liverpool players in the top seven for the men’s Ballon d’Or, was awarded the new Yashin trophy for the best male goalkeeper of the year.
There was no trophy on offer for the best female under-21 player or keeper.