Today FIFA announced that Lionel Messi had won his fifth Ballon d’Or trophy, ending the threat of Cristiano Ronaldo’s third straight title in a row, and leaving Neymar Jr. to settle for third in the running for his first appearance on the short-list.
And while it is a time for celebration, for all of these tremendous athletes to even be considered, the fact is that this last Ballon d’Or may herald the end of the Messi vs. Ronaldo era.
It’s not that Messi beat out Ronaldo to prevent his trophy hat-trick, but the fact that he absolutely demolished the voting, beating Ronaldo in every category of votes from captains, coaches, and media.
This leaves us all as witnesses to the end of what could be one of the best rivalries of the century.
Ronaldo will be 31 years old before the end of February, and while the star certainly still has his goal scoring abilities (54 for Real Madrid) many have noticed other elements of his game starting to recede, namely his iconic step-over and break-away speed.
Messi, on the other hand, hasn’t changed even minute details of his game. He’s still maintained his incredible touch and ability to beat 1, 2, 3, or even 4 defenders to find the net.
It seems that the rivalry is behind Messi as it is anyway.
The Argentinian has already admitted that he’d love to trade his Ballon d’Or trophies for just one world cup and his statements at the end of the ceremony were casual,
“It’s a very special moment to be back here, winning another Ballon d’Or,”
“It’s incredible win a fifth… more than anything I ever dreamed of as a kid.”
So while the lights go down, and the celebrations hush to a murmur the only thing we the viewers are left wondering is, will there ever be another rivalry like this?
Will the Ballon d’Or ever be such a hotly contested prize between two other-worldly athletes, both within their prime?
And lastly, will we even be alive to witness it?