“For real? For real? For real?”
That was Lionel Messi’s reaction upon hearing in the middle of November that he had won the 2019 Ballon d’Or, according to the editor-in-chief of the magazine that gives the award, France Football.
Pascal Ferré says he called when Messi was in Mallorca before Argentina’s match against Brazil.
“It was a very natural conversation. I told him that I wanted to talk about the Ballon d’Or, that I had news to give him, and he told me he had heard rumors. I responded to him like this: ‘well, they are not rumors, I am announcing to you officially that you have won the Ballon d’Or.’ And then he started to ask me, ‘for real? For real? For real?’ I told him many times, and I responded to him that, yes, yes, yes, he is the winner,” Ferré said.
The France Football editor-in-chief said he noticed the Barcelona ace was quite happy, saying “you could tell that he missed the trophy. He was like a child who always gets gifts on the same date and is used to it, until one day he doesn’t get them, and he is anxious to recover them.”
Messi officially received the award on Monday but he knew well in advance, and various media had leaked the results by the time the award was handed over.
Rémy Lacombe, editor of France Football, admitted that sometimes it is the French magazine itself creating fake leaks on Twitter to throw people off about the real result.
“We even created some fake covers and put them up on Twitter. But in this 2019 edition, we did not do any of that,” he said.
Lacombe also revealed how they convinced Luka Modrić to hand over the award personally.
“When we asked him if he would give the Balon d’Or, he imediately said yes and without us ever telling him who the winner would be. I believe that he would have liked to have received it that way as well, from the hands of the previous winner, Cristiano Ronaldo.”