The Ballon d’Or Gala earlier this week was one of the biggest talking points in the world of football.
Lionel Messi stole the show with his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or while Jude Bellingham deservedly picked up the Kopa Trophy.
A lesser spoken-about award on the night was the Socrates Award, an effort to recognise a player’s humanitarian work. Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr was named the winner, and deservedly so.
Lewis Hamilton praises the Real Madrid star
British Formula One legend and seven-time World Drivers’ Championship title holder Lewis Hamilton spoke to the media ahead of the upcoming Sao Paulo Grand Prix where he commended Vinicius Jr for winning the Socrates Award.
“I’m so grateful that Vinicius Jr. has been acknowledged to win the Socrates Award not only for being a great athlete but also a great spokesperson for the people and the culture. It’s very honourable.”
“It is truly inspiring to witness individuals who confront such challenges and exhibit courage in the face of adversity,” he added, as revealed by Reuters.
The 38-year-old driver also spoke about his meeting with Vini Jr earlier this year at the Italian Grand Prix,
“It was a genuine honour to meet him; he brought incredible energy to the team.”
Needless to say, these are big words of praise for the young Brazilian considering that Hamilton is one of the most involved personalities in supporting youth, education, and employment for underprivileged communities.
A deserving winner
Vinicius Jr. has faced severe racial slurs on the field in recent months but has only used the same to power him to greater heights. He has now become the image of anti-racist efforts in the footballing community.
Yet, the Socrates Award was not only in light of his fight against discrimination. It was for the work he puts into his organisation, The Vini Jr Institute, that uses technology to educate underprivileged Brazilian children.
Notably, the Real Madrid star is pumping in €1 million for the same purpose this year, and the figure could well be 2.5 times in 2024.
Official: Real Madrid starting lineup against Napoli | UCL GW 5
Real Madrid are back in the Champions League following their impressive win against Cadiz on the weekend as they host Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu for gameweek five.
They have already secured qualification to the round of 16, and even a point today would secure first place in the group.
With several players still injured, Carlo Ancelotti has opted for his best available starting lineup, with Daniel Carvajal taking responsibility of the captain’s armband at right-back. He will be aided by Ferland Mendy, who starts on the other side.
Meanwhile, in between them, David Alaba returns to the fold as the starting centre-back, partnering Antonio Rudiger. This duo has the responsibility of screening Andriy Lunin, who continues in goal in Kepa and Thibaut Courtois’ absence.
With both Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni out, Toni Kroos gets the chance to play as the holding midfielder for two games in a row. Federico Valverde retains his spot, as well, while Dani Ceballos comes in for the injured Luka Modric in central midfield.
Rodrygo will spearhead the team’s frontline as one of the two twin forwards, while Brahim Diaz gets the nod over Joselu. Jude Bellingham is the final, and arguably the most important piece of the puzzle, playing behind the front-two.
Confirmed Madrid XI: Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Ceballos; Bellingham; Diaz, Rodrygo