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"I was a little hurt when Cristiano won the fifth Ballon D'Or"

Pin Lionel Messi spoke about his motivation to be the best. AFP
Lionel Messi spoke about his motivation to be the best. AFP

"I was a little hurt when Cristiano won the fifth Ballon D'Or"

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Argentinian striker Lionel Messi admitted that the Cristiano Ronaldo's fifth Ballon D'Or in 2017 served as motivation for his to keep performing at the best level.

Lionel Messi became the undisputed best football player in the world on Monday evening, picking up his sixth Ballon d'Or. The Argentine star received this award after a very good individual performance this 2019, during which he regained his best level. Despite his irrefutable status as one of the best football players in history, his performances in recent years had not been a good as one had come to expect.  

Because of this, La Pulga decided to transcend herself and climb back to the top after several seasons without the most beautiful reward. In an interview with France Football, he suggested that Cristiano Ronaldo's equaliser to five Ballon D'Or in 2017 pushed him to get back to his best: "On the one hand, I liked having five and being the only one to have done so. When Cristiano equalised, I admit it hurt a little. I was no longer alone at the top. But it made sense, even if it was good when I was alone at five."

Asked about Ronaldo's disappointment, which was apparent on Monday when he did not see fit to come and congratulate his great rival, Messi replied intelligently: "It is something we experience, feel and express according to the way we are. Once again, collective titles are the most important, even if individual trophies are rewarding, and when you miss out on the Ballon D'Or, everyone experiences it in their own way. But when you're a top-level athlete, you always want to win."

Did he feel some injustice when the Portuguese collected individual prices and he remained in the shadows? "Let's just say I understood why I didn't win," he said. As a team, we hadn't achieved our major goal, which was to win the Champions League, which gives you more chances to win the Ballon D'Or. When Cristiano Ronaldo won it it was because he achieved great seasons by winning the Champions League and being decisive. It was well-deserved, there wasn't much I could do."

Many consider Messi to be the best player in the history of football. With this status, it is sometimes difficult to accept the role of the second, even if you are coming out of a difficult season. However, the Argentinian said that he has digested his failures well: "It is up to you to tell me if the Ballon D'Or is awarded to the best player or the one who has the best season. After that, it's also up to everyone's taste. Some prefer Cristiano, and others prefer what I do or what Neymar or Mbappé do. People have the right to choose the one they like best."

Finally, and as he did on Monday at the ceremony, Messi said how proud he was to be number one again and to win a prize that is very dear to him: "It is exceptional to win the Ballon D'Or four years in a row, and winning it again after the first puts the longevity of my career and its incredible character into perspective. It's difficult to stay competitive for a decade. I was lucky enough to be able to do so and this Ballon D'Or I am winning today shows it, because the people I compete with are also very strong players."

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