For the best player in the world, it’s another trophy for a mantle already full from individual and team honors he’s won with Spanish Club Barcelona.
Messi joined some stellar company with the other three-time winners of the Ballon d’Or: Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten.
The FIFA Player of the Year award was merged with the Ballon d’Or in 2010. Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane are the other three-time winners of that award.
While those players are great, Platini is the only player besides Messi to win the Ballon d’Or three times in a row. However, there is another distinction. Of all the awards Platini, Cruyff and van Basten won, each missed the most important one: the World Cup trophy.
For Messi, the missing World Cup trophy has been a shadow over his legendary career. At just 24 years old, he is already haunted by two World Cup failures (in 2006 and 2010).
The three players prior to Messi were from historically under-performing nations: the Netherlands and France. That tag does not extend to Argentina. And while Messi is almost certain to break the all-time record with another Ballon d’Or (among many other awards) in his career, it may mean nothing for those judging him if he does not win a World Cup.
At his age, Messi is likely to have two if not three more opportunities to win the World Cup. But the question will remain until then. Can he be considered one of the best without a World Cup title?
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