From Fabrizio Romano announcing the winner days before to Twitch streamers running around creating content on the night, the argument that the Ballon d’Or has lost its sparkle is a very fair one.
Lionel Messi winning his eighth trophy felt inevitable from the minute Argentina went all the way at the 2022 World Cup no matter how many goals Erling Haaland scored last season, which is enough to put a bad taste in the mouth of some.
When you marry that to IShowSpeed running around live on stream barking at footballers and making a drama during the moment Messi won, and the extremely poor organisation of the ceremony as a whole which meant women’s football was again entirely overlooked, the evening was an awkward one.
It’s a shame, too, because the annual ceremony allows players to ditch the shorts and boots for slick outfits and is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the very best of the best in the game.
But on a disappointing evening, there was one event that salvaged the night in a way we couldn’t possibly have predicted.
Kylian Mbappe and Didier Deschamps performed heroics to save the evening with a dramatic performance that would’ve landed you full marks at GCSE level.
Seriously, forget whatever sitcom or period drama it is that you’re currently spending your days watching – the two Frenchman have provided a moment to eclipse them all.
Messi wasn’t the only hero of Argentina’s iconic World Cup campaign and that was recognised as Emiliano Martinez picked up the Yashin Trophy for his freakish performances between the sticks.
It’s quite absurd to think that if it wasn’t for Neal Maupay injuring Bernd Leno in 2020, none of this probably would’ve happened right now.
Thankfully though, it did. Leno is fine and we’ve been left with an absurd chain reaction ever since, that has seen the former Arsenal number two become Argentina’s World Cup-winning number one, one of Messi’s bodyguards, and a man who’s singlehandedly rattled an entire nation of footballers and their fans.
Seriously, the French cannot let Martinez rest – namely Mbappe and Deschamps.
An unsavoury chorus of boos rang out around the audience in Paris as his World Cup final highlights were shown, which was in poor taste, but the real stars of the show were the disgruntled pair sat in the audience, which the cameras picked up on to gift us with some all-timer television.
Even that’s an understatement at this point, to be honest.
Martinez – admittedly an expert in sh*thousery – has had the entire footballing population rattled at some point, but neither Mbappe nor Deschamps can let go.
Can you blame them? Imagine being the man to fire in a hat-trick in a World Cup final and still not being on the winning team. Pain like never before.
But come on, guys. Just have a night off. Let a man receive his award in piece, without looking like two naughty schoolboys being taken to task for giving hell to a supply teacher. That’s all we ask.
The Ballon d’Or camera operators deserve awards of their own for spotting the two grumpy faces among the masses, however, and giving us a new chapter in an eternal feud between Martinez and… well, the French national team in its entirety.
At this point, we reckon if a camera operator follows Mbappe into his retirement home when that day eventually comes, he’ll be sat there with that exact frown permanently etched onto his face, seething at the mere thought of the Argentine goalkeeper from yesteryear.
Emi Martinez, we salute you. Not just for your heroic saving abilities, but for your commitment to football’s dark arts and continually proving the one singular pain in the backside that Mbappe cannot shake.
By Mitch Wilks