‘There were difficult moments’: Lionel Messi reacts to winning his 7th Ballon d’Or (VIDEO)

Lionel Messi has spoken of "difficult moments" after extending his own record by winning the most prestigious individual prize in football, the Ballon d'Or, for a seventh time – with the Eiffel Tower lit up in his honor.

Suited Messi was presented with the prize by close friend and former Barcelona team-mate Luiz Suarez at the Chatelet Theater in Paris.

The hot pre-ceremony favorite attended the gala with his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, and their three children, thanking his relatives immediately after taking to the stage to receive the honor.

Messi was then asked to press a button which appeared to light up the Eiffel Tower, with footage duly appearing of the landmark shimmering in an apparent symbolic celebration of his victory.

Suarez pointed and laughed as he sat next to Messi's PSG team-mate and fellow nominee, Kylian Mbappe, and watched the illumination, accompanied by a banner of Messi, take place.

"During the past seasons there were difficult moments – no-one knew what would happen in the future," reflected the winner as Roccuzzo exuberantly applauded.

"There was talk of a change of destination and then I settled in Paris. I am happy; I want to continue my journey and my path.

"I am looking forward to more challenges with my new team. I think this award is exceptional.

"I think the Copa achievement was exceptional: we achieved a dream that we have always been waiting for.”

“Of course, I dedicate this award to my wife, my children, my family, my father, my mother and all the family members. For the first time, I won the award with a club in this city."

The family would not have had far to travel after Messi stunningly joined Paris Saint-Germain in August, leaving Barcelona, where he had spent his entire career, because the club could not meet wage restriction requirements imposed in Spain.

Weeks after turning 33, Messi captained Argentina to a long-awaited first trophy in his company, finishing as the top scorer and the player of the tournament after their 1-0 win over Brazil in the Copa America final in July.

The lethal striker scored 41 goals and provided 17 assists, helping one of the poorest Barcelona sides in modern times to challenge for the Liga title until late last season and win the Copa del Rey.

That included finishing as top scorer in the Spanish top flight, seven goals ahead of Ballon d'Or contender Karim Benzema and nine ahead of former team-mate Luis Suarez, who won the league with Atletico Madrid.

He is yet to hit his scintillating top form on a regular basis for Paris, only scoring his first Ligue 1 goal in his sixth appearance, but he has been prolific in this season's Champions League and provided all three assists as PSG won 3-1 at St-Etienne a day before the ceremony.

Messi retains the title he won in 2019 – the award was canceled last year – after first lifting it in 2012.

Poland and Bayern Munich goal machine Robert Lewandowski's remarkable haul of 64 goals in the calendar year was not enough for the runner-up to edge out Messi.

Chelsea midfielders N’Golo Kante and Jorginho finished fifth and third respectively, either side of Real Madrid and France hotshot Benzema.

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