Argentina’s feat in winning the 2022 World Cup has been recognised at the annual FIFA awards with players and their coach scooping many of the top prizes. Even their fans won an award.
Meanwhile, the achievement of England’s Lionesses in winning the European Championship – only the second major trophy ever won by an England team – was also honoured, with Sarina Wiegman named coach of the year, and a number of their players appearing in the World Best XI.
The awards were handed out at a glittering ceremony in Paris attended by some of the biggest stars in the game.
For the second time, Lionel Messi was named FIFA Male Player of the Year over PSG teammate Kylian Mbappé and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, the current holder of the Ballon d’Or.
Messi won it after leading Argentina to World Cup success and winning the Golden Ball as Player of the Tournament.
The architect of that success, Lionel Scaloni, was named coach of the year. In fact, Scaloni has double reasons to celebrate this week, as Argentina have just announced that they are extending his contract until 2026.
Another Argentine winner was Emi Martínez, who was named goalkeeper of the year for his exploits in the World Cup where he saved the decisive penalties in the final shootout, as well as performing similar heroics in the quarter-final stage against the Netherlands.
Even the Argentinian fans were recognised. They were given the award for the way that they celebrated in the streets of Qatar after their win in the final against France, and then continued the party back in Buenos Aires and all over Argentina after the team returned home in triumph.
The Team of the Year
Surprisingly, perhaps, Martínez was not named in the FIFA Men’s Team of the Year as his place instead going to Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois.
In fact, Messi is the only Argentinian in the side, which also features names like Mbappé, Benzema, Virgil van Dijk, and Kevin de Bruyne. The inclusion of young England and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham is likely to add several millions more to his transfer price next season.
Eyebrows may be raised slightly at the decision to name Barcelona’s Alexis Putellas as Female Player of the Year for the second time.
A double Ballon d’Or winner, nobody doubts the midfielder’s credentials as one of the best players in the world. However, given that she missed much of 2022 with an ACL injury, there is an argument that there were more deserving recipients.
Sarina Wiegman was named female coach of the year after the Dutchwoman ended England’s long wait for success in a major tournament. She had coached her national team to success in the previous European championship and then repeated the trick with the English.
Other Lionesses represented
England’s Mary Earps was named women’s goalkeeper of the year, and four of her teammates featured in the team of the year.
They include her international captain Leah Williamson and forward Beth Mead, who was runner-up to Putellas for the individual award and who won the Golden Ball as top scorer in the Euros.
The Puskas award
The Puskas award (named after the legendary Hungarian forward) went to Marcin Oleksy, a Polish amputee player. He was employed as a road worker 12 years ago when a piece of equipment fell on him and he subsequently had to have his lower left leg amputated.
Playing for the Polish team Warto Poznan, the goal for which he won the award saw him cap off a fine team move by sending the ball into the back of the net with an overhead kick aided by his crutches.
Fair Play award
The FIFA Fair Play award went to Luka Lochoshvili whose actions saved the life of an opponent.
He was playing in a league match for Wolfsberger FC against Austria Vienna when Austrian Vienna star George Tiegl collapsed on the pitch after a collision, lost consciousness, and swallowed his tongue.
Lochoshvili saw what had happened, sprinted over, and attended to Tiegl on the spot, pulling out his tongue after several concerted efforts and clearing his airways until medical staff arrived on the scene.
Unfortunately, he was not able to receive the award in person because he was playing for his new club Cremonese against Roma, but he still received one of the biggest rounds of applause of the evening.
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