History waits for Leo Messi with open arms: for some, he is already the best player of all time, and titles are on track to confirm him as such. Individually, the Argentine already has two Ballon d’Ors and a FIFA World Player of the Year award. But at only 23, his era has just began. At the moment, FC Barcelona’s striker has already made history. Players that have two gold balls or more are: Ronaldo, Van Basten, Platini, Rummenigge, Keegan, Beckenbauer, Cruyff and Di Stefano. Among this list, Messi is the youngest to receive the second award. Johan Cruyff, for example, was 26 years old in 1973, when he received his second Golden Ball. Marco van Basten, until now the youngest, was 25 years old in 1989, when he received his second award. Rummenigge and Ronaldo were 26 years old when they received their second and final awards. The oldest at the time of receiving the second award was Di Stefano in 1959 at age 33.
The biggest players in the history of football are: Cruyff, Di Stefano, Maradona, & Pele. But Messi seems to be on track to join these great footballers at the Football Olympus. Pele and Maradona could never win a Ballon d’Or, because until 1995 it was only given to European players, Di Stéfano won two awards, and Cruyff, three prizes. Franz Beckenbauer, for many the fifth player in history with the exclusion of Leo, won two golden balls and appeared five times among the top three contestants. The youngest footballer to receive the award was Ronaldo, who won it in 1997 at the age of 21 years and three months after having completed a spectacular season with Barça.
Leo Messi, who tonight will be offering the Golden ball to the fans during the Copa del Rey match against Betis, will be starting his quest for his third Ballon d’Or. Throughout history, only three players have managed to win three Golden balls: Cruyff, Van Basten and Platini. None of them won a World Cup, but a Euro Cup in the case of Van Basten (1988) and Platini (1984).
The Barca striker is the third footballer born in Argentina who gets the Golden Ball, but the first that won it as an Argentine, since both Di Stefano and Omar Sívori received their awards as nationalized Spanish and Italian players, respectively.
His triumph equals the football eternal pulse between the two giants of South America, Brazil and Argentina, with five gold balls for players that have emerged in each country: two of Di Stefano, Messi and one for Sívori of Argentina; two from Ronaldo and Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaká for Brazil.