It has become a familiar sight to see a smiling Lionel Messi with the FIFA Ballon d’Or in his hands. The fifth of his career arrived on Monday, 11 January 2016 and aroused, to the surprise of many, no little emotion in the Argentinian. “Like I said on the stage, there are a lot of emotions going through my mind. Winning this award is always special. I’d gone two years without collecting it, looking on as it went to someone else, and now it’s my turn again. It’s not easy to win five. It’s always good to stay on top.”

At the age of 28, and after beating Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona team-mate Neymar in the vote for the award, the Rosario-born star now has a little time to look back and reflect on how much things have changed since 2009, when he picked up the Ballon d’Or for the first time, and since January 2015, when the rumour was that he would be leaving Barcelona for England.

“That’s football for you. Things are always changing,” he explained. “In 12 months everything has changed. That’s why you just have to take things in your stride. What’s clear to me is that the best thing is to be the way we are right now: more relaxed, enthusiastic and anxious to go out and repeat all the good things we’ve done this year.”

In signing off, Messi had some warm words for Wendell Lira, the winner of the FIFA Puskás Award for the best goal of the year, saying his victory was “well deserved”, and also expressed his thanks to “all the people who love me, who follow me in Barcelona, Argentina and around the world. I share this award with everyone who wishes me well.”