In a news that came as a delight to his fans from all over the world, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi won the best men’s player at the Best FIFA Football Awards in Milan. He outclassed his competitors Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award for the sixth time.
Messi scored 54 goals in 58 games for club and country in 2018-19, compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 31 in 47 matches. This was Messi’s first major award win since winning his fifth Ballon d’Or in 2015. He finished with 46 ranking points to 38 for Van Dijk and 36 for Ronaldo.
“It has been a long time without winning an individual prize. It is good to have this award,” Messi was quoted saying after his win. “The most important thing for me is the collective awards, but today is also a very special night for me,” he added.
The star-studded ceremony in Milan’s iconic La Scala Opera House and was marked by the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. He decided to stay in his home in Milan and later posted a message in Instagram. “Patience and persistence are two characteristics that differentiate the professional from the amateur,” he wrote. Ronaldo won the award in 2016 and 2017, with Croatian Luka Modric winning in 2018.
Messi’s win was unexpected as many were expecting Virgil Van Dijk, who won the UEFA player’s award last month to receive the honours. “Today, I, unfortunately, didn’t win but I’m not disappointed,” Van Dijk said at a later hour. Both players are now are now in the running for the much coveted Ballon d’Or which will be announced on 2nd December.
On their website, FIFA said, “In a glittering and superlative career to date, there are few personal accolades and records that Lionel Messi has not won. His brilliance also helped the Blaugrana to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals and the Copa Del Rey final while he played his part in Argentina’s third-place finish at the Copa America. It may have taken four attempts, but Messi is now The Best.”
Messi is presently trying to recover from a calf injury sustained during training before the 2019-20 season. He has appeared only in two matches of Barcelona since his comeback. As per reports, the Argentine striker is likely to appear in the match against Villarreal later on Tuesday.
United States forward Megan Rapinoe won the award in the female category by beating fellow co-captain Alex Morgan and England’s Lucy Bronze. Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp was voted men’s coach of the year while U.S. national team coach Jill Ellis took home the best women’s coach trophy.