Lionel Messi admits he was “hurt” when Cristiano Ronaldo equalled his record of five Ballons d’Or
Messi moved back ahead of Ronaldo on Monday, when he narrowly beat Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to the 2019 version of the prestigious prize.
That triumph took the Barcelona forward's overall tally to six titles, more than any other player since France Football first introduced the award in 1956.
And the 32-year-old Messi, who admitted that he now savours such accolades more than he did when he was younger, has opened up on his fierce competition with Ronaldo for the gong.
"On the one hand, I liked having won five and being the only player to do so," he told Marca.
"When Cristiano equalled me, I admit that it hurt a little because I was no longer alone at the top. But at that time Cristiano deserved to win the Ballon d'Or, and I didn't - I could have done so much more.
"Once again, team titles are the most important, although the individual awards have great value too. As far as the Ballon d'Or is concerned, everyone interprets it in their own way. Of course, in the highest level sport, you always want to win.
"I remember that for my first Ballon d'Or, I came to Paris at 22 years of age with my three brothers. It was something incredible," he added after collecting the award.
"Now, 10 years later, I am at a different time, a very special time in my personal life with my wife and three children, who accompany me along with my brother and my nephew.
"As my wife said in her [video] message, in all this time I never stopped dreaming, of always wanting to grow, of continuing to improve day by day and especially enjoying football."