Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi acknowledged “the moment of withdrawal is approaching” after picking up a record sixth Ballon d’Or crown at Monday’s ceremony in Paris.
Messi saw off stiff competition from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to win the award for the first time since 2015, moving him one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished third.
The 32-year-old has scored 41 goals in 44 club appearances this calendar year, but he is unsure just how long he will be able to maintain his incredible goalscoring form.
Speaking on stage after collecting the prestigious accolade, a decade on from his first triumph, Messi said: “To the journalists and my colleagues with whom I win and lose, I remember my first Ballon D’Or in Paris, when I arrived with my brothers, now I pick up the sixth, and this was absolutely unthinkable.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 2, 2019
“I never stopped dreaming and enjoying football like when I was a child. I hope I have more years to enjoy, although I am aware of how old I am, everything happens very quickly and I know that the moment of withdrawal is approaching.”
Messi is into his 16th season with Barcelona and made his 700th appearance for the LaLiga champions in last week’s 3-1 win against Borussia Dortmund.
The Ballon d’Or award has now been won by a player from Spain’s top flight in each of the last 11 campaigns, with Luka Modric temporarily breaking Messi and Ronaldo’s stronghold on the prize last year.
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