Football: Messi wins Fifa’s The Best men’s player of the year, Spain’s Putellas claims women’s award

Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas at the Best FIFA Football Awards 2022 ceremony in Paris, on Feb 27, 2023. PHOTOS: AFP

PARIS – Lionel Messi hailed a “tremendous” year after winning Fifa’s The Best men’s player award for 2022 on Monday, as Argentina scooped all major men’s prizes after winning a vintage World Cup final in December.

The 35-year-old forward scored two goals in the final against France, with the South Americans emerging triumphant on penalties following a 3-3 draw after extra time in Qatar.

“It’s amazing. It was a tremendous year and it is an honour for me to be here tonight and win this award,” said Messi, who sat next to Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe throughout the ceremony at Paris’ Salle Pleyel.

France forward Mbappe, also nominated for the prestigious award, netted a hat-trick in the World Cup final but his achievement was overshadowed as Messi finally won the most coveted trophy in world football.

Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema of Champions League winners Real Madrid had been the other contender for the prize.

“I want to express my thanks to (coach Lionel) Scaloni and my teammates, without them I would not be here,” Messi added.

“I achieved a dream I had been hoping for so long and finally I achieved it. It’s a dream for any player, very few people can achieve that and I was lucky enough to do so.”

It is the second time Messi has won the honour inaugurated by Fifa in 2016 after football’s world governing body split from Ballon d’Or organisers France Football. He has won the Ballon d’Or seven times.

The award is voted for by national team coaches and captains, journalists and also fans.

Given his status as Argentina captain, Messi voted for another of his PSG teammate, Brazilian forward Neymar, ahead of Mbappe, according to the Daily Mail.

Messi’s compatriots Scaloni and Emiliano Martinez won the coach and goalkeeper awards respectively, and Argentina supporters even got the best fans prize.

On the sidelines of the award, the Argentinian football federation announced that Scaloni has signed a new contract until the 2026 World Cup.

The 44-year-old, who took over the role in 2018, agreed to the new deal while attending the ceremony.

“Argentinian football chief Claudio Tapia and Lionel Scaloni met to finalise the extension of his contract until 2026,” a statement from the federation read under the headline “Continuity assured”.

Scaloni also led Argentina to the Copa America title in 2021 – the Albiceleste’s first international trophy since 1993.

The England women’s team, meanwhile, were rewarded for their victorious women’s Euro 2022 campaign.

Mary Earps was named best goalkeeper and England’s Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman received the accolade for best coach of a team who had four players in the year’s World 11 – Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh.

Spain’s Alexia Putellas was named women’s best player after inspiring Barcelona to a third consecutive national title in 2022.

The 29-year-old midfielder, who is the captain of Barcelona, beat Mead and United States star Alex Morgan to add the Fifa crown to the Ballon d’Or, which she won in 2021 and 2022.

Polish amputee Marcin Oleksy won the Puskas prize for best goal for a spectacular acrobatic volley with Warta Poznan against Stal Rzeszow. AFP

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