Barcelona star Lionel Messi has admitted he was hurt when long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo levelled him on five Ballon d’Or crowns.
The Portuguese star won four of the five editions between 2013 and 2017 - with Messi winning in 2015 - to tie the duo on five awards each.
The decade-long duopoly of the superstars was ended in 2018 when Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, who also helped Croatia to that year’s World Cup final, won the award.
However, Messi was rewarded for a fine 2019 by being re-crowned for the first time in four years at the awards ceremony in Paris on Monday night.
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was ranked second in this year’s award ceremony with Ronaldo - who joined Juventus from Los Blancos in the summer of 2018, dropping to third.
“On the one hand, I liked being on five (trophies) and being the only one. When Cristiano matched me, I admit that it hurt a little, I was no longer alone at the top,” Messi revealed, as cited by Marca.
“But at that time Cristiano had merit for winning the Ballon d’Or and I did not I could do much more.
“Team titles are the most important, although the individuals have great value. As far as the Ballon d’Or is concerned, everyone lives in their own way. Of course, at the highest level sport, you always want to win.
“I understand why Cristiano did not win this year. Neither of us met the aim of winning the Champions League and that is the competition that gives more opportunities to take the Ballon d’Or.
“When Cristiano Ronaldo was winning the trophies was because he had very good seasons and won the Champions League, being decisive.”
Ronaldo indeed did secure the award for being best player in Italy thanks to his 21-goal contribution and Scudetto success with Juventus last season - his first campaign with the Bianconeri.