The 2023 calendar year turned out to be a historical one in the world of football as several footballers made highlights at the biggest stages.
From Lionel Messi winning a record eighth Ballon d’ Or to the football world losing two international players, 2023 was a year full of mixed feelings.
Furthermore, the year also saw the rise of future stars and dominance among football greats.
The Kenya Times has compiled some of the greatest football moments that made headlines in the year 2023.
Messi Wins Eighth Ballon D’ Or
In what could have settled the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) debate, Argentina maestro won his record eight Ballon d’Or Award.
Messi was crowned as the best footballer in the year 2023 in an event that took place at the Paris Theatre du Chatelet in October.
Presented by the French magazine France Football, the Ballon d’Or has been a revered institution since 1956, recognizing the best players in the soccer world.
“I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved.
It’s nice to win these individual trophies. To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing,” Messi said after the historic win.
Messi, at 36, reached the zenith of his illustrious career by leading Argentina to glory at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Subsequently, Messi made waves after completing a transfer to the United States’ Major League Soccer from Paris St Germain in July.
Donning the jersey of Inter Miami, Messi has set the MLS ablaze with his mesmerizing displays, with record match attendances being recorded since his unveiling.
Ronaldo Becomes 2023 Top Goal Scorer
On the other hand, former Real Madrid and Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo also made headlines this year.
Ronaldo matched Messi’s trophy record with stunning performances on the pitch both for club and country.
Notably, Cristiano leads the goal-scoring charts for the year 2023, beating the likes of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.
The Al Nassr forward went on to elevate his total tally in 2023 to 53 goals as he scored twice in a 5-2 victory against Al Ittihad on December 27.
He surpassed Kane and Mbappe’s 52 goals each, with only Haaland (50) the other player with 50+ goals in 2023.
Ronaldo further etched his name into the history books becoming the player with the most goals in football’s history.
It has been a remarkable year for the Portuguese forward who also holds the goal scoring record for Portugal.
Unfortunately, the football world was also hit by saddening moments following the passing of two International Ghanaian players.
First, former Newcastle winger Christian Atsu died in an earthquake that hit Turkey in February.
Atsu was laid to rest in a state funeral in March in his home country of Ghana.
The 31-year-old was caught up in a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey on February 6, killing more than 54,000 people.
Notably, his body was pulled under the rubble of the collapsed apartment building which he stayed in at Hatay.
Also, the football world lost another Ghanaian international football player Raphael Dwamena at the age of 28.
This came following the player’s collapse during a game in Albania in the month of October.
“Raphael went unconscious while playing for the local Egnatia team in the country’s Super League,” said the Albanian Football Federation (AFA).
Furthermore, footage on social media showed the player all by himself on the pitch before stumbling and falling over.
He lost consciousness on the field around the 24th minute of the match against Partizani.
Players from both teams reacted, calling on the medical team to assist the player before an emergency ambulance was quickly driven into the pitch.
The Federation reported later saying, “Despite the immediate intervention of specialist doctors and all efforts to bring him back to life, the footballer unfortunately passed away.”
This was after he was rushed to hospital following a First aid administration on field.
There were moments of bliss also for Kenyans in the football world as our very own made history.
Leading from the front was Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga, currently based in Qatar.
Olunga has the Kenyan flag flying high following his nomination for the Globe Soccer Awards alongside stars such as Ronaldo.
Notably, Olunga was picked under the inaugural ‘Best Middle East Player’ category, one of the six Men Players’ categories.
In addition, apart from Ronaldo, the category also features stars such as Al Ahli’s Riyad Mahrez and French forward Karim Benzema.
You can vote for Michael Olunga through Globe Soccer Award’s online platform, which includes a total of 17 categories.
Other notable categories include the ‘Best Men’s Player’ which features stars such as Erling Haaland and Lionel Messi.
Announcing the nominees on Thursday, November 24, 2023, Globe Soccer noted that the winners will be unveiled on January 19, 2024.
Also in 2023, despite losing 2-1 to Uganda in the CECAFA U-18 championship, Kenya’s rising stars gave hope for the future of the sport in the country.
The championship showcased Kenya’s rising football talents as the Junior Stars grabbed the spotlight with their outstanding performances.
Furthermore, the youngsters maintained a flawless record from up to the semifinals demonstrating an impressive combination of defensive and offensive abilities.
With spectators impressed by the performances, the standout star was 17-year-old Aldrine Kibet.
Kibet, has garnered widespread recognition due to his remarkable mindset both on and off the pitch.
Notably, his prowess was on full display during the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association tournament.
He played a crucial role as his Kakamega High School team recorded a resounding victory in the finals.
Luton Town Make Football History
This year also saw a moment of history in the Premier League following Luton Town’s promotion from the Championship.
Furthermore, promotion came following their victory against Coventry City on penalties in the Championship playoff final.
Luton Town further went on to play in the Premier League for the first time in August, losing 4-1 to Brighton.
The team has already etched its name in the history books having secured four promotions in 10 seasons.
In addition, their home stadium, Kenilworth Road, hosted a top-flight football for the first time since 1992 against West Ham in September.
Fast forward, the team has since registered poor results in their first ever season registering only four wins and currently sitting in the relegation zone.
Bellingham’s Bright Start
In what has turned out to be among the best transfers of all time, Real Madrid completed the signing of Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund.
Notably, the England midfielder signed a six-year contract worth €103 million in July.
The 19-year-old has since etched his name among the most promising talents at the biggest stages.
Under manager Carlo Ancelotti’s tutelage, Bellingham has lit up the scoresheet, adding goals to his already impressive skillset.
In 2023, Jude also claimed an individual award, winning the European Golden Boy award.
His performances since the start of the season further earned him widespread recognition, with the former Birmingham player now being hailed as a Galactico.
Bellingham has hit the ground running in La Liga with an incredible 13 goals in his first sixteen with Los Blancos.
Additionally, he has scored in all four of Madrid’s games in Europe this season that he’s played in.
In fact, in all competitions, the young talent has registered 17 goals and 5 assists across 21 matches in 2023.
Man City Wins 5 Trophies in 2023
Current English and European champions Man City also made highlights in 2023 following their title winning spree.
The champions recorded a spectacular calendar year with an unprecedented victory spree seeing them clinch five prestigious trophies.
Furthermore, the achievement was a record breaking one as City are now the first English team ever to clinch five major titles under a calendar year.
Also, the Etihad blues achieved a remarkable fete this year, claiming a third consecutive Premier League title.
The team further set a record as Guardiola led them to their fifth Premier League triumph in just seven seasons.
Additionally, Man city clinched its maiden UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup title titles in what has been a remarkable 2023.
In conclusion, those were among the top football moments that made highlights, among others.
Notably, 2023 has been dominated by other moments of bliss including Xabi Alonso’s shocking records at Bayer Leverkusen.
As the football world moves into a new calendar year, football fans around the world are expecting more moments of highlights.