Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas were crowned the best players in men’s and women’s football at FIFA’s annual awards ceremony in Paris on Monday.
Messi, who guided Argentina to World Cup glory at the end of last year, was honored as the Best FIFA Men’s Player for the second time in the award’s current format, while Spanish midfielder Putellas was named Best FIFA Women’s Player for the second year running.
National team coaches and captains, as well as a worldwide panel of journalists and supporters, vote on the awards each year.
The 35-year-old Messi finished ahead of Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappé and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema in the voting for the men’s award.
“I achieved a dream I had been hoping for so long,” said Messi, reflecting on Argentina’s World Cup win. “It’s a dream for any player, very few people can achieve that and I was lucky enough to do so.”
In the World Cup final, Messi scored twice as Argentina and France played out a thrilling 3-3 draw after extra time before Argentina triumphed on penalties.
Messi also scored six goals in 26 appearances as his PSG team won a record-equaling 10th title in Ligue 1.
In his voting capacity as Argentina’s captain, Messi chose PSG teammate Neymar as the best men’s player ahead of Mbappé and Benzema.
Putellas, meanwhile, scored 34 goals in all competitions last season and captained Barcelona to a domestic treble and a spot in the Champions League final against eventual winner Lyon.
The 29-year-old, who missed the European Championships with an ACL injury, finished ahead of the USA international Alex Morgan and England striker Beth Mead in the voting.
She also becomes the first player to win the women’s award twice.
As well as Messi, two other Argentinians – goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and coach Lionel Scaloni – were honored at the awards ceremony, while England goalkeeper Mary Earps and coach Sarina Wiegman were recognized on the women’s side.
The Puskás Award for the best goal in men’s and women’s football went to Polish amputee star Marcin Oleksy for an outrageous scissor-kick goal while playing for Warta Poznan in November.
“I connected really cleanly. It was pure,” Oleksy said about his goal.
“When I hit it, I was following the ball all the way with my eyes and I saw it go into the corner of the net. I always wanted to score a beautiful goal. You could see how proud it made me after I scored. I stood up tall, I put my chest out. I was just so, so happy.”