Lionel Messi’s mum has revealed the Barcelona legend was not expecting to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or.
Messi scored 54 goals for club and country during the 2018/19 campaign, while Van Dijk is widely regarded as one of the world’s best defenders after helping Liverpool secure a sixth European Cup in June.
And speaking to El Espectado in an interview which was aired by CNN Radio, Messi’s mum, Celia Cuccittini, admitted their surprise at the win.
“I am very happy,” said Cuccittini. “We were not expecting this.
“We thought the fifth [Ballon d’Or] had been the last. Honestly, this was a beautiful surprise. He did not expect it either.
“I do not know if he found out minutes before, I do not know, but we did not know anything.”
Messi could still have many years left at the top level, despite the Argentina captain turning 33 next June.
When asked about Messi’s retirement plans, Cuccittini added: “It is always something emotional. His career does not stop surprising us every day.
“What he can do and also how he is as a person, which is the main thing. He stands out for being such a good person and a great father.”
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Messi’s Ballon d’Or triumph was his first since 2015, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric holding the prize during that time.
He is now one Ballon d’Or ahead of Ronaldo, who has won the award five times.
Messi 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.”