FRANCE: Football superstar Lionel Messi has won FIFA’s best men’s player award for the seventh time in 14 years, beating out contenders Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema.
FIFA presented the awards on Monday in Paris, and Messi attributed his win to fulfilling his lifelong dream of winning the World Cup with Argentina, which he achieved last year.
Messi said that every footballer dreams of winning the World Cup and that very few could fulfil it. “I’m thankful to God for being able to do it,” he added.
Messi also broke a record he shared with Cristiano Ronaldo, making the men’s world best XI for the 16th time, alongside other talented players like Virgil van Dijk, Luka Modric, and Erling Haaland.
Mbappé, who was seeking his first best player award from FIFA, was considered Messi’s heir apparent on the world stage, but Messi’s win puts any talk of a passing of the torch on hold.
Real Madrid star Benzema won the more prestigious Ballon d’Or in October, before the World Cup. However, Messi’s performance in the tournament won him the Golden Ball trophy awarded by FIFA for the World Cup’s best player.
In the women’s category, Spain’s Alexia Putellas won the best player award for the second year in a row, despite being injured days before the Euro and missing the tournament. Putellas scored 34 goals across all football matches last season.
England’s women’s goalkeeper Mary Earps won the women’s goalkeeper award, while Argentina’s Emiliano Martnez, who won the World Cup, was named the best men’s goalkeeper.
The event paid tribute to soccer legend Pelé, who died late last year at age 82 following a battle with colon cancer.
FIFA presented Pelé’s wife, Marcia Aoki, with a trophy honouring the soccer great from the hands of former Brazil striker Ronaldo.
The ceremony also saw Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni win FIFA men’s coach of the year after leading his team to the World Cup title in December. The women’s coach award went to Sarina Wiegman, who successfully led England to the Women’s European Championship title.
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