PARIS: Lionel Messi was named FIFA player of the year 2022 on Monday as Argentina scooped all major men’s awards after winning a vintage World Cup final last 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.
Messi beat his Paris St Germain team-mate, and World Cup final rival, Kylian Mbappe to the gong with Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema having been the other contender to claim the prize.
“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 in between Mbappe and his wife Antonella Roccuzzo throughout the ceremony at Paris’s Salle Pleyel
Mbappe, also nominated for the highly anticipated award of the night, 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.
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.
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 35-year-old, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, succeeds Polish star Robert Lewandowski on the FIFA honours list.
He took the prize just 24 hours after combining with Mbappe to lead PSG to a 3-0 win against Marseille in Ligue 1.
“I want to express my thanks to [coach Lionel] Scaloni and my team-mates, without them I would not be here,” Messi added. “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. 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.”
His compatriots Lionel Scaloni and Emiliano Martinez won the coach of the year and keeper of the year awards respectively, and their supporters even got the best fans prize.
Spain’s Alexia Putellas, who won the Ballon d’Or last year, was named women’s player of the year despite spending the second half of last year out injured after inspiring Barcelona to a third consecutive national title.
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.
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 Marcin Oleksy won the Puskas prize for best goal of the year for a spectacular acrobatic volley with Warta Poznan against Stal Rzeszow.