Despite being overlooked for the 2018 Ballon d'Or, Messi has enjoyed another wonderful year, having helped Barca to another LaLiga crown in the 2017-18 campaign.
He scored 34 times in 36 games on the way to inspiring that title triumph, a record not matched across Europe's top leagues as he secured yet another Golden Shoe.
Messi, 31, was presented with the prize for a fifth time – usurping Cristiano Ronaldo's tally of four – on Tuesday and it offered him the opportunity to reflect on his expectations as a youngster.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 18, 2018
"I did not expect this when I started," Messi said at the event. "My professional dream was to be able to succeed in football, I never imagined this.
"I enjoy my work, the effort and, above all, the team-mates. I'm in the best team in the world, I have the best team-mates in the world in their positions and that makes everything easier getting these awards.
"Thanks to God I feel very good physically and emotionally. The years go by and I try to take care of myself, as I have done my whole career, and more, because the games are increasingly demanding."
Photo Getty Images. Caption: Barcelona star Lionel Messi