Lionel Messi named top men’s player at Best FIFA Awards as Alexia Putellas and Sarina Wiegman also win

Another award: Lionel Messi was named the best men’s player  (REUTERS)
Another award: Lionel Messi was named the best men’s player (REUTERS)

Lionel Messi was name the best men’s player at The Best FIFA Football Awards in Paris, beating Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema to the prize.

It came as no surprise, after Messi almost single-handedly at times dragged Argentina to World Cup glory at the end of last year. Mbappe’s Golden Boot was not enough to see him beat his PSG team-mate, while Ballon d’Or winner Benzema also missed out.

It is the second time Messi has picked up the award, having also done so in 2019. Robert Lewandowski has won in each of the last two years, but did not make the final shortlist this time.

Beth Mead was nominated for the main women’s award but, as was the case for the Ballon d’Or Feminin, she was beaten by Alexia Putellas, who defended her crown. American striker Alex Morgan was also on the shortlist.

There was success for the Lionesses elsewhere though, with Sarina Wiegman named the best women’s coach after leading England to the Euros on home soil. Mary Earps picked up the goalkeeper award for her role in that run.

“From when I could walk I have loved football,” Wiegman said. “It’s just incredible to be right here and to celebrate women’s football. Little girls have their idols and inspirations. So many people across the world have worked so hard to get the game where it is right now.”

Earps paid tribute to her England boss, before sending an emotional message to those in “a dark place”.

“Sometimes success looks like this, collecting trophies, sometimes it’s just waking up and putting one step in front of the other,” the Manchester United goalkeeper said.

“There’s only one of the you in the world, and that’s more than good enough. Be unapologetically yourself. Thank you everyone.”

There was plenty of Argentina success at the Paris ceremony beyond Messi winning the main men’s award, as they swept the individual awards. Emi Martinez was named goalkeeper of the year, while Lionel Scaloni won coach of the year for leading his country to World Cup glory. It was confirmed earlier in the night that he had signed a new contract through to 2026.

The FIFA World XIs were also announced. Four current Premier League players made the men’s team, including Erling Haaland and Virgil van Dijk, while Arsenal duo Leah Williamson and Mead got the nod in the women’s side.

Marcin Oleksy became the first amputee footballer to win the Puskas Award, worthy recognition for his stunning overhead kick.