Lionel Messi’s Trophy Room is only Missing the Super Ballon d’Or, an Award That Has Not Been Won in Thirty Years
When fans of the contemporary footballing era think of the highest individual accolade bestowable upon any player, FIFA’s Ballon d’Or is the first award that usually comes to mind. That’s because the best-performing player for the year is awarded the trophy, annually. As a result, it is the most coveted prize in the sport when it comes to individual performance.
In recent years, the award has been tightly contested by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have won the prestigious prize 7 times and 5 times, respectively. Only Luka Modric and Karim Benzema have managed to edge their way onto the winners list alongside these legends since 2008.
Few realize that there is one prize more prestigious than the Ballon d’Or though. The Super Ballon d’Or has only ever been awarded once in history. The rare award went to the best player of the preceding 30 years leading up to 1989. However, it is being strongly suggested by Dario AS in Spain that officials are likely to re-introduce this lifetime award towards the end of this decade (2029) and it’s strongly touted that Lionel Messi’s trophy room will be graced with its presence.
The History of the Super Ballon d’Or
The first Super Ballon d’Or was first awarded on the 24th of December 1989 by the French magazine, France Football. It was devised to honor the best European football player of the preceding 30 years. The recipient of the prize was Argentine striker, Alfredo Di Stéfano (who managed to qualify for the award because he had acquired Spanish citizenship playing for Real Madrid).
Alfredo Di Stéfano won the award by special jury vote ahead of Johann Cruyff and Michel Platini, who had both won the Ballon d’Or three times a piece during the preceding decades. Unfortunately, other footballing greats like Maradonna and Pele were not eligible for the prize because they were not of European descent.
After being on display at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid for over three decades, the trophy along with other Di Stéfano memorabilia was auctioned off by his children to an anonymous buyer in 2021. The whereabouts of the Super Ballon d’Or trophy are currently unknown.
Why Messi is Heavily Linked to the Super Ballon d’Or Award
Over the years, there has been strong contention for the title of the ‘Best Player in the World’. Both Lionel Messi’s and Cristiano Ronaldo’s trophy yields are impressive, and both players have excelled way beyond the majority of footballers in the game today. But there are a few reasons why Messi is believed to hold the pole position in the race.
Firstly, after winning the Qatar FIFA World Cup in 2022, Lionel Messi is likely to claim his 8th Ballon d’Or trophy, securing his spot as the man with the highest Ballon d’Or trophy yield ever. It will see him exceed Ronaldo by three awards.
Secondly, the fact that Messi is the only one of the two to scoop the World Cup Trophy is a major deal and possibly the tipping point for the Super Ballon d’Or allocation.
Thirdly, Messi remains in the top tier of the sport in Europe with Paris St Germain, while Ronaldo has moved abroad to play in Saudi Arabia. While great for his bank balance, that move is likely to draw the curtain on Cristiano’s involvement in football at the highest level.
Now, you may be thinking, how could Messi win a trophy that is originally meant for European footballers? Well, he is Argentinian by birth, but he carries a Spanish-Argentine passport, making him a legal citizen of Europe and, therefore, eligible for the prize.
Does Cristiano Ronaldo Have a Shot at the Trophy?
As at the start of 2023, Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest goal scorer of all time. He had accumulated 819 goals in 1145 games. He surpassed Josef Bican who held the record of 805 goals in 530 games and lies ahead of Messi who is on his tail with 793 goals in 1003 games.
But these specs may not be enough to contend strongly enough with Messi for the Super Ballon d’Or, especially given the fact that Messi is still in the game at the highest level with a 2 (and possibly 3) Ballon d’Or lead. And the fact that he has lifted the coveted FIFA World Cup trophy is something we cannot highlight enough.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s trophy yield is still rather impressive though. He has laid his hands on more than 30 team trophies across the Spanish, Italian, English, and global competitions, along with more than 35 individual achievements. During the nine years that Messi and Ronaldo were together in the Spanish League, both averaged a goal every 85 minutes across all competitions. So, the competition between the two is very tight.
Here is a rundown of the more prominent individual and team awards won by Messi and Ronaldo over the span of their careers:
|2021/2022||N/A||FIFA World Cup, Golden Ball for Qatar World Cup|
|2020/2021||Coppa Italia||Copa Del Rey, Ballon d’Or, Pichichi award, Copa America|
|2018/2019||Serie A, Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Nations League||European Golden Shoe, Spanish Super Cup, La Liga|
|2017/2018||Ballon d’Or, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup||European Golden Shoe, Copa Del Rey, La Liga|
|2016/2017||Ballon d’Or, Champions League, La Liga, Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup||European Golden Shoe, Spanish Super Cup, Copa Del Rey|
|2015/2016||European Championship, Champions League||Ballon d’Or, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, La Liga|
|2014/2015||Ballon d’Or, Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, European Golden Shoe||Copa Del Rey, La Liga, Champions League|
|2013/2014||Ballon d’Or, Champions League, Copa Del Rey, European Golden Shoe||Spanish Super Cup|
|2012/2013||Spanish Super Cup||Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, La Liga|
|2011/2012||La Liga||Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, Spanish Super Cup, Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Copa Del Rey|
|2010/2011||European Golden Shoe, Copa Del Rey||Ballon d’Or, Spanish Super Cup, La Liga, Champions League|
|2009/2010||N/A||Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, Spanish Super Cup, Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, La Liga|
|2008/2009||Ballon d’Or, Premier League, League Cup, Community Shield, Club World Cup||Copa Del Rey, La Liga, Champions League|
|2007/2008||Champions League, Community Shield, Premier League, European Golden Shoe||N/A|
|2006/2007||Premier League||Spanish Super Cup|
|2005/2006||English League Cup||Spanish Super Cup, La Liga, Champions League|
|2003/2004||English FA Cup||N/A|
|2002/2003||Supercopa de Portugal||N/A|
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, analysts may find that choosing the winner of the up-and-coming Super Ballon d’Or trophy may not be as easy as many would think. Messi may have the lead now, but anything could happen in the next few years before Ronaldo calls it a day on his playing career. Only time will tell.