The best are Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas, who for the second time won The Best award, the award given by FIFA to point to the highest annual references in world football through a ballot in which the votes of selectors, captains of 211 countries, those of a journalist for each of those nations and, ultimately, all those people who bothered to register on a web space to cast their vote. Each of these four groups contributed 25% of the total votes.
It was the seventh edition of the awards, after they divorced in 2016 after six years of marriage with the Ballon d’Or awarded by the magazine French Football. But on this occasion, the exceptionality of a winter World Cup led to the returns being weighted from August 2021 until the end of the event in Qatar, last December. That is where the triumph of Lionel Messi is explained, who had already won in 2019 and equals Cristiano Ronaldo, winner of the first two editions, and Robert Lewandowski, who did it in the last two, in the still short list of awards.
The Paris Saint-Germain soccer player and world champion with the Argentine team received congratulations from Mbappé, whom he surpassed in the count and who, a seat neighbor in the Parisian auditorium that hosted the event, was the first to congratulate him. Messi did not hide that everything has to do with what happened in the World Cup. “I got my dream after so much insisting. It is the most beautiful thing that happened to me in my career, it will remain in my memory forever.
Benzema, who last October received the Ballon d’Or for the 21-22 season, completed the shortlist of finalists. Messi then had not even entered among the thirty nominees for French Football. The Real Madrid striker did not travel to participate in the award ceremony. Nor did Courtois and Modric attend, who like the French nine were the representatives of the current continental champion in the best eleven of the year. Emilio Butragueño, director of institutional relations, held the representation of the white club in the French capital, which alleged the tightness of the calendar so that none of its players paraded through the green carpet that FIFA extended.
In the women’s section, Alexia Putellas became the first footballer to repeat victory, after her victory in the previous edition. In the case of women, the temporary space that was considered to evaluate them ended on July 31, just after the Euro Cup that the Barcelona midfielder missed due to the injury from which she is still recovering. But neither her absence, nor her defeat with her team in the Champions League final against Olympique de Lyon, displaces her from the world throne. She surpassed English Beth Mead, Arsenal forward who led her country to victory in the championship that Putellas did not play, and American Alex Morgan. “All the people who have a dream can see that if they work they can achieve it. And the most important thing is to enjoy the journey”, pointed out the Catalan midfielder.
The “eternal” Pelé in memory
Lionel Scaloni, hours after knowing his renewal with the Argentine team until the 2026 World Cup, received the award for best coach ahead of Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola, absent in Paris and who still have not reached an award that Ranieri already have, Zidane, Deschamps, Tuchel and, twice, Klopp. “There is nothing more beautiful than seeing your people, your country, excited, the victory is for them,” Scaloni stressed.
The epic on the shores of the Persian Gulf also explains Dibu Martínez’s recognition as the best goalkeeper, who is not exhibited in the big shop windows with Aston Villa, over Courtois, the hero of Real Madrid’s fourteenth Orejona and Sevilla player Bono, also outstanding in the World Cup with Morocco. Martínez was moved by his words: “They always ask me about my idols. For me it was my mother for cleaning buildings for seven or eight hours and seeing my father (an operator in the port of Mar del Plata) work”. The Argentine flake was completed by La Doce, chosen as the most outstanding fans. “We are the best,” settled El Tula, an 82-year-old fan who was in thirteen World Cups and hit his hype on stage to celebrate the award.
The best men’s eleven with a drawing signed by Johan Cruyff is made up of Courtois; the defenders Achraf, Van Dijk, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Casemiro, Modric as midfielders; and Messi, Benzema, Haaland and Mbappé for the attack. In total three footballers who play in LaLiga, three in Ligue 1 gala, one in the Bundesliga recently arrived from the Premier and four who are still in England. “We would have the ball all the time so we wouldn’t have to defend so much,” Casemiro settled. Gavi and Pedri were the only two Spaniards nominated from a list of 26 finalist footballers.
Among the women, the English Mary Earps, from Manchester United, was designated as the best under sticks. Sarina Wiegman, the Dutchman who coaches England and led them to the European title, achieved her third win in seven years. Two Spaniards, Mapi León and Alexia Putellas, both from Barcelona, featured in the best women’s eleven. The team is made up of Endler at the goal; Bronze, Mapi León, Williamson, Renard as full backs; Alexia Putellas, Walsh and Oberdorf for midfield and Morgan, Kerr and Mead in attack.
The Puskas award for the best goal went to the Polish Marcin Oleksy, a footballer who lost his left leg and who, supported by his crutches, uncovered himself last November with an accurate scissor shot in a match with his team in a league of amputees, the Warta Poznan. It all happened at a gala that honored Pelé with a special award that Ronaldo gave to his widow. “He is soccer. He is eternal, ”said Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA.
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