Lionel Messi won FIFA’s The Best 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 honor, which was launched by FIFA in 2016 after soccer’s world governing body split from Ballon d’Or organizer France Football.
The award, which is voted on by national team coaches and captains as well as journalists and fans, recognizes 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.
Messi also claimed the Golden Ball for the best player at the tournament, although Mbappe was the top scorer with eight goals, one more than the Argentine.
“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.”
He took the prize just 24 hours after combining with Mbappe to lead PSG to a 3-0 win against Marseille in France’s Ligue 1.
The 35-year-old, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, succeeds Polish star Robert Lewandowski on the FIFA honors list, while Putellas retained the women’s prize despite spending the second half of last year out injured.
The 29-year-old beat England’s European Championship-winning striker Beth Mead and U.S. 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 the team 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 recognized as Lionel Scaloni claimed the men’s coach’s honor and Emiliano Martinez was named the best male goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, England’s European Championship victory helped its 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’s great Ferenc Puskas.