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Sam Kerr makes Aussie football history in agonising near miss for Ballon d'Or award

The Matildas hero has achieved the highest finish for an Aussie player for the prestigious football gong.

Sam Kerr and Aitana Bonmati.

Sam Kerr has achieved the highest finish for an Australian football player in the history of the prestigious Ballon d'Or award, coming second to Spanish World Cup-winning star Aitana Bonmati. Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or for a record-extending eighth time on Monday, while Bonmati was crowned the women's champion ahead of Kerr.

Bonmati's triumph follows that of international teammate Alexia Putellas last year after she inspired Spain to glory at the Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The 25-year-old midfielder was named the best player at the World Cup, and has now won the highest gong in football.

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As for Kerr, she is the first Australian player (male or female) to finish as high as second for the award. The Matildas captain also finished second to Bonmati in the recent UEFA player of the year voting.

Kerr produced an exceptional campaign for Chelsea last season, with the Aussie star helping the Blues win the women's FA Cup and Super League 'double' in England. Kerr also had an injury-plagued but impressive showing at the World Cup, helping the Matildas make the semi-finals and their highest-ever finish (fourth).

Kerr scored 29 goals in all competitions for Chelsea, and netted one of the goals of the World Cup with her screamer against England in the semi-final. She also finished runner-up behind Rachel Daly in the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year awards (the best player in England) earlier this year.

Bonmati also starred as Barcelona won the Champions League last season. She was one of four members of the victorious Spanish team to feature among the 30 nominees for the Ballon d'Or, with Alba Redondo, Salma Paralluelo and Olga Carmona, who scored the winner in the final, all shortlisted too.

“We are a country that lives football, intensely,” Bonmati said. “We have a unique talent in Spain.”

Aitana Bonmati, pictured here with the Women's Ballon d'Or award.
Aitana Bonmati receives the Women's Ballon d'Or award. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

Lionel Messi wins record eighth men's Ballon d'Or

The 36-year-old Messi won the men's award ahead of Manchester City forward Erling Haaland and former PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe. A year after missing out on the shortlist, and despite leaving top-level European football behind for a move to Inter Miami, Messi has recovered his crown.

He won the sport’s highest individual prize due to his tremendous World Cup. Messi was involved in 10 goals for Argentina in the tournament in Qatar, scoring seven and assisting three more. He scored twice in the final against France as Argentina claimed the trophy.

His final season with PSG was less impressive. Although PSG won a record-extending 11th French league, they again exited the Champions League in the round of 16. Since moving to Inter Miami in the United States, Messi has already picked up his first silverware there by inspiring the team to victory in the US Leagues Cup.

For the first time last year, the trophy awarded by 'France Football' magazine was based on achievements from the past season. It was previously awarded based on performances through a calendar year.

with agencies

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