Lionel Messi won a record sixth men’s Ballon d’Or award at a ceremony in Paris on Monday, beating Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to take the honours.
Now aged 32, it is Messi’s first Ballon d’Or since 2015 and his sixth overall as he moves one ahead of his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished third in the voting.
Messi, who attended the ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in the French capital with his wife and children, succeeds Luka Modric, the Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder who won the prize last year.
The Barcelona number 10 previously won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011 and in 2012 before claiming his fifth Ballon d’Or in 2015.
This latest honour comes after he also claimed FIFA’s equivalent award, The Best, in September.
“It is 10 years since I won my first Ballon d’Or here in Paris and I remember coming here with my three brothers, I was 22 and it was all unthinkable for me what I was going through,” Messi said on stage.
“Now ten years on this is my sixth, in a very different time, very special in my personal life with my wife and three children.”
The Argentine added: “I am aware of the age I have but I hope I have several years left to keep enjoying my football and doing this.”
Sadio Mane, another of the stars of the Liverpool side that won the Champions League, came fourth in the ranking for the prize voted for by 180 journalists from around the world.
Messi has scored 46 goals in 54 matches so far in 2019, and netted 36 times in total in 34 La Liga matches last season as Barcelona won the Spanish crown.
Megan Rapinoe earlier won the women’s Ballon d’Or after leading the United States to a record-extending fourth World Cup title in France this year as they retained the trophy.
The 34-year-old midfielder, the standout player at the June-July tournament, succeeded Norway’s Ada Hegerberg who did not take part in the World Cup.
Rapinoe was not present at the ceremony in the Theatre du Chatelet, where the show ‘An American In Paris’ is on.
“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,” Rapinoe said in a recorded message.
“I want to thank my team mates and the U.S. federation.”
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, however, no trophy for the best female Under-21 player or keeper.
Men’s Ballon d’Or
1. Lionel Messi (ARG/Barcelona)
2. Virgil van Dijk (NED/Liverpool)
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Juventus)
4. Sadio Mane (SEN/Liverpool)
5. Mohamed Salah (EGY/Liverpool)
6. Kylian Mbappe (FRA/PSG)
7. Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool)
8. Robert Lewandowski (POL/Bayern Munich)
9. Bernardo Silva (POR/Manchester City)
10. Riyad Mahrez (ALG/Manchester City)
Women’s Ballon d’Or
1. Megan Rapinoe (USA/Reign FC)
2. Lucy Bronze (ENG/Lyon)
3. Alex Morgan (USA/Orlando Pride)
4. Ada Hegerberg (NOR/Lyon)
5. Viviane Miedema (NED/Arsenal)
6. Wendie Renard (FRA/Lyon)
7. Sam Kerr (AUS/Chicago Red Stars)
8. Rose Lavelle (USA/Washington Spirit)
9. Ellen White (ENG/Manchester City)
10. Dzsenifer Marozsan (GER/Lyon)
(Best player under 21 on December 31)
1. Matthijs de Ligt (NED/Ajax Amsterdam then Juventus)
2. Jadon Sancho (ENG/Borussia Dortmund)
3. Joao Felix (POR/Benfica then Atletico Madrid)
(Best goalkeeper, presented for the first time)
1. Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool)
2. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GER/FC Barcelona)
3. Ederson (BRA/Manchester City)