Messi took the chance to praise Lewandowski at the ceremony
Messi collected a record seventh Ballon d’Or at a gala event in Paris last week. On stage Messi took the chance to praise Lewandowski, who had been favourite to win the prize last year only for the award to have been cancelled due to the pandemic.
“You were the winner last year and France Football should give you the award. You deserve it, you should have it at home too,” Messi said.
The Bayern Munich striker was reported to have aired his frustrations to Polish show Moc Futbolu on TV station Kanale Sportowym, but he has moved to clear up the matter.
“My statement, which I made in an interview with a Polish TV / Via Play broadcaster, is currently being taken out of context,” Lewandowski said. “I never said that Lionel Messi’s words were not sincere.
“On the contrary: Lionel Messi’s speech at the event in Paris, in which he expressed that, in his opinion, I deserved the Ballon d’Or 2020, was very kind. With my statement, I just wanted to express that I would of course be very happy if Messi’s words were heard.
“I respect and appreciate Lionel Messi beyond measure and once again I would like to congratulate him on winning the Ballon d’Or 2021.”
The German media labelled the Ballon d’Or awards “scandalous” and claim they had “cheated” Lewandowski out of the award.
Messi picked up the gong after winning the Copa America with Argentina. Many were furious, particularly as Lewandowski was favourite to win the 2020 title before the ceremony was cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
Lewandowski, who did win a separate striker of the year award, scored 38 goals in 30 league games in 2021 and won the Bundesliga.
German newspaper Bild said the Pole was “cheated” adding: “This can not be true. It is a scandalous choice.”
Former German international and Ballon d’Or winner Lothar Matthaus also couldn’t believe the result.
“With all due respect to Lionel Messi and all the other great nominated players nobody deserves it like Lewandowski. France Football didn’t award the prize last year, and if only because of all the titles that Robert has won with Bayern 2020, he is unrivalled not only in the last two years.
“But even if you only take 2021 into account, he was better than the rest. He broke Gerd Muller’s record of the century, is again top of the top scorers list in every competition, and has surpassed everyone nationally and internationally this year as well.”
The Polish international scored 48 goals in the 20/21 Bundesliga season helping Bayern to their seventh straight title and breaking Muller’s record of 41.