Paris, Feb 27 (EFE).- Argentine great Lionel Messi added a new trophy Monday night to his massive collection, taking home honors for the 2022 The Best FIFA men’s player of the year.
The 35-year-old Messi won the prize just over two months after leading his country to victory in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a tournament where he was named the most outstanding player.
“This year was crazy for me. I was able to achieve my dream after so much fighting, so much searching, so much insisting … It’s the most beautiful thing that has happened to me in my career. Few players get to do it (win the World Cup), and thank God I was able to do it,” he said in his acceptance speech in Paris.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward, who scored 27 goals for PSG and Argentina over 49 games in 2021-2022, garnered 52 points to beat out two Frenchmen for the award: Kylian Mbappe (44 points), his club teammate; and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (34 points).
Benzema, who won the Ballon d’Or prize for the first time last October, did not compete in Qatar due to injury, while Mbappe scored all three of France’s goals in the final against Argentina and also converted his chance in the penalty shootout.
Messi scored twice in the final and also booted the ball in the back of the net in the deciding shootout, which his team won 4-2.
The Argentine all-time great, winner of a record seven Ballon d’Or awards, now has two The Best FIFA men’s player of the year prizes (tied for the most with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski).
Two other vital contributors to Argentina’s World Cup-winning run also took home hardware on Monday night.
Emiliano Martinez, who plays for Premier League club Aston Villa, edged out Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid) and Morocco’s Yassine Bounou (Sevilla) to win the award for The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper.
Martinez was instrumental in leading Argentina to victory against France in the final, denying Randal Kolo Muani in a one-one-one opportunity with the score tied 3-3 and time running down in extra time and then making a save in the penalty shootout.
He also saved two penalties in a shootout against the Netherlands in the quarterfinal.
Argentina’s head coach Lionel Scaloni, for his part, was named The Best FIFA Men’s Coach, beating out Italy’s Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid) and Spain’s Pep Guardiola (Manchester City).
The big upset of the night, however, came in the voting for The Best FIFA women’s player of the year.
English forward Beth Mead (Arsenal) was the big favorite, but she was beat out by Spain’s Alexia Putellas, who took home top honors for the second straight year.
Mead led England to victory in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 and was named the best player of that tournament.
Putellas missed that event due to a knee injury, but she led FC Barcelona Femeni to the Spanish league title and to the final of the 2021-22 UEFA Women’s Champions League.
The 29-year-old Spaniard was the top scorer in that tournament (11 goals) and also was named the most outstanding player. EFE