On this day in 2009, Lionel Messi began his complete and utter domination of the Ballon d'Or awards by winning the prize for the first time.
Messi levelled Ronaldo's tally to set up football's most incredible rivalry after the Portuguese superstar won the Golden Ball the previous year for the first time.
But Messi, then just 22, could never have even dreamed of collecting another six Ballon d'Ors.
Asked if he wanted a second Ballon d'Or, Messi told Barca TV: "Hopefully, it would be really impressive to be able to get another one. But I'm relaxed.
"Hopefully the team will continue to do things like before to continue to achieve success and win titles. And that will be good for everyone."
More titles did follow of course and Messi was again a Ballon d'Or winner in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
He and Ronaldo ended up tied on five when the former Real Madrid talisman won in 2016 and 2017.
Then, Messi somehow finished fifth in the 2018 rankings but moved ahead on six in 2019 - before becoming 'LM7' on Monday night.
The 34-year-old was favourite going into the event after captaining Barcelona to a Copa Del Rey win and leading Argentina to a first international trophy since 1993 in the summer when they went all way in the Copa America.
He was presented with the award by former teammate Luis Suarez, who joined Messi and his family for an exclusive celebratory party in Paris.
But Messi made sure to give props to Robert Lewandowski, who finished just 33 points behind him in second-placed after a stellar year.
The Bayern Munich man claimed the new 'Striker of the Year' award but many felt he has hard done by the Ballon d'Or's cancellation last year due to coronavirus.
"I’d like to mention Robert, it’s been a real honour to compete with him," Messi said in his speech.
"I think France Football should award you your 2020 Ballon d’Or, you deserved it."
Featured Image Credit: Image: PA & FC Barcelona
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