The Best FIFA awards: Messi, Putellas win top honors; amputee claims Puskas
World football's top players and managers of 2022 were recognized at The Best FIFA Football Awards show Monday. Below, theScore runs down the winners of the various trophies.
Best Men's Player
Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina)
Who else? Despite Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe's best efforts to snatch FIFA's top individual honor, Messi once again outmaneuvered them all. The 35-year-old lifted the World Cup in Qatar after playing a leading role for Argentina, scoring seven goals in the tournament, including two in the final. Mbappe scored a hat-trick on that day in Doha, and Benzema produced astounding 44 goals during the 2021-22 campaign, a feat which delivered him the Ballon d'Or in October. Neither could stop Messi from claiming the award for a second time.
Best Women's Player
Alexia Putellas (Barcelona and Spain)
Putellas didn't play in last summer's European Championships. It didn't matter. Sidelined with an ACL injury that forced her to miss the tournament, the 29-year-old still headlined the nominees for this year's award, winning it for the second time in a row. She also took home the Ballon d'Or Feminin in October, crowning an impressive season in which she captained Barcelona to a perfect 30-0-0 record in Liga F. Putellas outclassed England's Beth Mead, who finished as top scorer at Euro 2022, and perennial U.S. star Alex Morgan.
Best Men's Coach
Lionel Scaloni (Argentina)
Many eyebrows were raised when Argentina turned to Scaloni in 2018 after a series of unsuccessful coaching hires. After all, he had no experience coaching a senior men's team - at club or international level - before being thrust into one of the most intimidating jobs in all of football. The rest, of course, is history. Scaloni led Argentina to the World Cup title, creating harmony in a previously disjointed squad and crafting a system that got the best out of Messi without putting the entire creative burden on his namesake's shoulders. With Scaloni at the helm, Argentina returned to heights not experienced since the days of Diego Maradona. Scaloni's success in Qatar helped him beat out club titans Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola for the award.
Best Women's Coach
Sarina Wiegman (England)
Wiegman is the first person - male or female - to win FIFA's top coaching prize three times. She's been nominated in this category every year since 2017 but has perhaps never been more of a shoo-in than this year. Wiegman completely transformed England's fortunes, instilling belief in a squad that hadn't realized its potential under predecessor Phil Neville. England used a variety of tactics to stymie opponents at Euro 2022 and ultimately beat Germany in a memorable final at Wembley Stadium.
Puskas Award winner
Marcin Oleksy - Warta Poznan vs. Stal Rzeszow (Nov. 6, 2022)
Oleksy, the first-ever amputee footballer to be on the shortlist for the Puskas Award, scored a sensational scissor kick in November that quickly went viral and garnered a message of support from Polish compatriot Robert Lewandowski.
Best Men's Goalkeeper
Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa and Argentina)
Martinez made headlines for his penalty-saving heroics at the 2022 World Cup. The 30-year-old made two stops in the quarterfinal shootout win over the Netherlands, and his massive save in the 120th minute of the World Cup final against France gave Argentina the opportunity to win the title on penalties. Martinez outshone Thibaut Courtois, who made nine saves in the Champions League final to help Real Madrid claim the crown for the 14th time, and Yassine Bounou, who was part of Morocco's incredible run to the World Cup semis.
Best Women's Goalkeeper
Mary Earps (Manchester United and England)
Earps, 29, backstopped England to the Euro 2022 title on home soil, playing in all six of her country's matches. Beating out competition from 2021 winner Christiane Endler and German shot-stopper Ann-Katrin Berger, Earps told the audience in Paris she didn't expect to win the award, which no English woman had claimed before. Earps contemplated retirement after serving as England's third-string 'keeper at the 2019 World Cup. "Without rain, you don't get rainbows," she said.
Men's FIFA FIFPro World11
Thibaut Courtois; Achraf Hakimi, Virgil van Dijk, Joao Cancelo; Kevin De Bruyne, Casemiro, Luka Modric; Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe
Women's FIFA FIFPro World11
Christiane Endler; Lucy Bronze, Maria Leon, Leah Williamson, Wendie Renard; Lena Oberdorf, Keira Walsh, Alexia Putellas; Beth Mead, Sam Kerr, Alex Morgan