Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe scoop Ballon d’Or 2019 awards - in pictures

Both were favourites for the honours but faced tough competition

Argentinian striker Lionel Messi and US winger Megan Rapinoe have won the prestigious Ballon d’Or awards in a ceremony in Paris on Monday night.

In a star studded evening at Paris’s Theatre du Chatelet, the Barcelona forward took the men’s award for a record sixth time, after a stunning season where the Spanish club won their 26th La Liga.

There were 30 nominees in total for both awards, which are organised by France Football magazine and voted for by 180 journalists from around the world.

Messi faced tough competition for the men’s award. Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk was also up for the award, as was Cristiano Ronaldo. They came second and third.

Messi had already won the Best Fifa Men's award in 2019, while Van Dijk was Uefa's Men's Player of the Year this year.

"Today is my sixth Ballon d'Or," Messi said at Monday's awards event. "It's a completely different moment, lived with my family and my children.

"As my wife said, 'You must never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy'. I am very lucky, I am blessed.

"I hope to continue for a long time. I realise that I am very lucky, even if one day retirement will ring. It will be difficult.

"But I still have beautiful years ahead of me. Time goes very quickly, so I want to enjoy football and my family."

Van Dijk was not the only Liverpool player on the short list.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker, defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and forwards Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were also nominated.

Rapinoe, 34, won the women’s award after this year helping the US to win its fourth Fifa Women’s World Cup, in France.

The winger is the driving force for the US team on and off the field.

Rapinoe was co-captain for the World Cup. She was named player of the tournament and netted six goals to also become its top scorer.

England’s Lucy Bronze, the Uefa Women's Player of the Year, was the runner-up for the award on Monday.

The Lyon defender played a key role in helping England make it to the World Cup semi-finals in July.

Last year’s men’s award was won by Luka Modric, who was not nominated this year.

He was the only winner other than Messi and Ronaldo in the past 12 years.

Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural Women's Ballon d'Or in 2018.

Updated: December 3, 2019 08:12 AM

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