By Keefa Nuwahereza
Lionel Messi this week won a record sixth Ballon d’ Or; he previously won the award in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
The Argentine said: “Ten years ago I received my first Ballon d’Or, guided by my three brothers.
“And today I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children.”
“As my wife explained, you must never stop dreaming but always work to improve and continue to enjoy. I am very lucky, I am blessed.”
Champions League winner Van Dijk finished ahead of Portuguese legend Ronaldo, a five-time winner.
Liverpool team-mates Sadio Mane and Mo Salah were fourth and fifth respectively.
Dutch centre-back Van Dijk hoped to be the first defender named best player on the planet since Italy’s Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
Messi’s win means the Ballon d’Or award has been won by a player from Spain’s LaLiga in each of the past ELEVEN YEARS.
Van Dijk said: “You need to respect greatness. It was an amazing year — but there’s a couple of players who are a bit unnatural.
“I was close but there was someone a bit better.
“I never thought I’d be up for a Ballon d’Or until I was actually nominated.
“It shows a lot about how my career’s been. I came late but never gave up on my dreams.
“I had to work hard every step of the way so to be here makes me so proud.”
Argentine Messi lifted his first Ballon d’Or crown for four years after netting 54 goals for club and country in 2018-19.
Messi, 32, also won the Best FIFA Men’s award in September, while Van Dijk was UEFA’s Men’s Player of the Year.
Liverpool ace Alisson won the Yashin Trophy for best keeper and was seventh in Ballon d’Or voting.
Megan Rapinoe clinched the Women’s Ballon d’Or gong, with England’s Lucy Bronze finishing second.
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