Leo Messi Alphabet: –> B - Ballon d’Or
“On 7 January 2013, Messi became the first player in the history of football to win a fourth Ballon d’Or. And he celebrated it wearing a polka-dot dinner suit. Platini, Van Basten and Cruyff won it three times. Beckenbauer, Di Stéfano and Ronaldo twice. Cristiano Ronaldo once. In the previous six years, there had been little rotation, proof of how complicated it is to reach the top: Ronaldo was on the podium on five occasions, Iniesta two, Xavi four. Messi on all of them.
While Messi walked to the stage, the cameras cruelly zoomed in on Ronaldo’s twisted face, he was finding it hard to project a smile. Messi received 41 per cent of the votes, Ronaldo 23 and Andrés Iniesta 10. That was the year Rodrigo Messi told L’Équipe that his brother had been clear about it from the beginning: ‘I still remember when he told me he’d love to win the Ballon d’Or some day. He was thirteen years old.’
Although he was known to be favourite, Leo’s words did not flow easily: ‘I want to share and thank my Barcelona team-mates, especially Andrés. I am proud to be by your side today and train and play with you every day. To my Argentina team-mates. To those who voted for me, both captains and coaches.’ There Leo stopped. ‘I don’t know … I’m very nervous. Thanks to my family, my friends and lastly and especially my wife and son who is the most beautiful thing God has given me.’ Later he explained what had happened: ‘I went blank in the middle because of the joy and because of the nerves. The truth is that I’m not used to speaking in front of so many people. I told the truth, but I was nervous.’ Thiago ‘doesn’t understand anything yet,’ he said later in a press conference, but he wanted to name him and his girlfriend Antonella, too. He also wanted to pay tribute to Tito Vilanova and Éric Abidal but the nerves betrayed him: ‘Obviously, this one is for Tito, too. As I said recently, at that moment the words wouldn’t come out. It is for Tito and Abidal. It was a tough blow for us but I hope to see them now, it makes us very happy. The biggest prize we can receive is them being here with us.’