Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi acknowledged "the moment of withdrawal is approaching" after picking up a record sixth Ballon d'Or crown at Monday's ceremony in Paris.
Messi saw off stiff competition from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to win the award for the first time since 2015, moving him one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished third.
The 32-year-old has scored 41 goals in 44 club appearances this calendar year, but he is unsure just how long he will be able to maintain his incredible goalscoring form.
Speaking on stage after collecting the prestigious accolade, a decade on from his first triumph, Messi said: "To the journalists and my colleagues with whom I win and lose, I remember my first Ballon D'Or in Paris, when I arrived with my brothers, now I pick up the sixth, and this was absolutely unthinkable.
READ | Ballon d'Or 2019: Van Dijk 'respects greatness' after losing out to Messi
"I never stopped dreaming and enjoying football like when I was a child. I hope I have more years to enjoy, although I am aware of how old I am, everything happens very quickly and I know that the moment of withdrawal is approaching."
Messi is into his 16th season with Barcelona and made his 700th appearance for the La Liga champion in last week's 3-1 win against Borussia Dortmund. He believes his record of six Ballon d'Or awards will be broken. While only Ronaldo has also won the award at least five times, Messi feels someone can get more than six.
"I think so. I don't know who but it's possible," he told reporters. "Records are made to be beaten, but I don't know who or when. But at the moment I hold the record and I'm very happy."
The Ballon d'Or award has now been won by a player from Spain's top flight in each of the last 11 campaigns, with Luka Modric temporarily breaking Messi and Ronaldo's stronghold on the prize last year. Messi won his first Ballon d'Or in 2009 before his dominance led to him claiming the prize in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and this year.
The Argentina international said: "It was unimaginable to win one, let alone six. It's a joy to get six, it's very nice the recognition from others and it makes me proud."
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