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'I went home with the junk' – Barcelona great Luis Suarez recalls very different Ballon d'Or presentation to Messi's

10:35 SAST 2019/12/04
Lionel Messi, Ballon d'Or
The former Spain international was just the fifth winner of the trophy 59 years ago, but there was no red carpet ceremony for him to collect the award

Barcelona’s first Ballon d'Or winner, Luis Suarez, says he “went home with the junk” after collecting his award in 1960, in sharp contrast to Monday’s lavish ceremony in Paris.

Current Barca superstar Lionel Messi collected a record sixth Ballon d'Or at the Theatre du Chatelet, the 12th time a player from the Catalan giants has lifted the award.

The world’s best players gathered for the ceremony in the French capital, which also saw awards presented for the best goalkeeper, best young player and best female player.

Only male European players were eligible for Ballon d’Or back in 1960, just the fifth year of the award’s existence.

Suarez was voted the winner after helping Barca win a Liga and Fairs Cup double, though the trophy presentation was a little more low key than on Monday.

"They gave me the trophy at a normal league game," Suarez told Movistar+.

"Then I went home with the junk as though nothing had happened.

"There was no big dinner after I received it.”

Suarez, now 84, remains Spain’s only winner of the award aside from Alfredo Di Stefano, who was born in Argentina but acquired Spanish citizenship prior to lifting the trophy in 1957 and 1959.

The forward joined Barca as a 19-year-old and went on to win six trophies in as many years at the club including two La Liga titles and two Fairs Cups.

He became the world’s most expensive player when he left Camp Nou for Inter for around £142,000 ($184,000) in 1961, forming part of a formidable Nerazzurri side that won three Serie A titles, two consecutive European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups between 1962 and 1965. Aside from his Ballon d’Or triumph, Suarez finished runner-up in 1961 and 1964 before finishing third in 1965.

No club has won more Ballons d’Or than Barcelona’s 12, with Messi’s victory on Monday seeing the club move ahead of great rivals Real Madrid.

After Suarez’s maiden triumph in 1960, Netherlands great Johan Cruyff won it twice in 1973 and 1974. Bulgaria forward Hristo Stoichkov won the title in 1994 followed by Rivaldo in 1999, with fellow Brazilian Ronaldinho winning the prize in 2005.