Messi beats Mbappe to Fifa Best prize, Putellas claims women's award

The honour recognises a year in which former Barcelona star crowned his career by leading Argentina to victory at World Cup

By AFP

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Published: Tue 28 Feb 2023, 7:10 AM

Lionel Messi won The Best Fifa men's player prize for 2022 on Monday on the back of his World Cup triumph with Argentina, and Spain's Alexia Putellas retained the women's award at a ceremony in Paris.

Messi beat his Paris Saint-Germain teammate and World Cup final rival, Kylian Mbappe, to the men's gong, with Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema having been the other contender to claim the prize.

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

The award, which is voted for by national team coaches and captains, journalists and also fans, recognises a year in which the former Barcelona star crowned his glorious career by leading Argentina to victory at the World Cup.

Messi scored twice in an epic final in Doha as Argentina beat France on penalties despite Mbappe netting a hat-trick for Les Bleus in a remarkable 3-3 draw.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

He also claimed the Golden Ball for the best player at the tournament, although Mbappe was the top scorer with eight goals, one more than Messi.

"This year was just mad for me, to be able to achieve my dream that I had fought so hard for. In the end I got it and it was the most beautiful thing that has happened in my career," Messi said of his World Cup win as he collected his award.

"It is a dream for every footballer but something that very few can make come true," added Messi, who was sat in the Paris theatre in between Mbappe and his wife Antonella Roccuzzo.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

He took the prize just 24 hours after combining with Mbappe to lead PSG to a 3-0 win against Marseille in Ligue 1.

The 35-year-old, a seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, succeeds Polish star Robert Lewandowski on the FIFA honours list, while Putellas retained the women's prize despite spending the second half of last year out injured.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

The 29-year-old beat England's European Championship-winning striker Beth Mead and United States star Alex Morgan to add the FIFA crown to the Ballon d'Or, which she has also won two years running.

Putellas is currently recovering from a serious knee injury suffered last July which ruled her out of the Euro in England with Spain.

Prior to that she had scored 11 goals on Barcelona's run to the Champions League final, which they lost to Lyon.

Putellas has previously said she hopes to return from injury in time to play again this season, but it remains to be seen whether she will feature for Spain at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in July and August.

Argentina's World Cup win in Qatar was also recognised as Lionel Scaloni claimed the men's coach's honour and Emiliano Martinez was named the best male goalkeeper.

Meanwhile, England's European Championship victory helped their Dutch manager Sarina Wiegman win the prize for best women's coach, while Mary Earps was named the women's goalkeeper of the year.

Polish amputee player Marcin Oleksy took the Puskas Award for best goal, named after Hungary great Ferenc Puskas.

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