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Messi beats Ronaldo and Van Dijk to Fifa's Player of the Year award

Megan Rapinoe won the women’s award, while Jurgen Klopp and Jill Ellis were the best coaches of the year.

Lionel Messi collects his award.
Lionel Messi collects his award.
Image: Imago/PA Images

LIONEL MESSI SAW off challenges from Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk to win the Fifa Best Men’s Player award for 2019.

Messi scored 36 goals in 34 La Liga games for Barcelona last season, leading them almost single-handedly to a sixth league title of the decade. In a sure sign he didn’t expect to win, Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t attend the awards ceremony, held at La Scala in Milan.

It is the sixth time Messi has won the Fifa-sanctioned individual award. 

Van Dijk had to console himself with a place in the FIFPro men’s XI of the year along with his clubmate Alisson Becker, who also picked up the Goalkeeper of the Year gong. 

Cristiano Ronaldo made that team too, along with Mathias De Ligt, Frenkie De Jong, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Eden Hazard, and Kylian Mbappe. 

United States superstar Megan Rapinoe won the Women’s award, ahead of Lucy Bronze and her compatriot Alex Morgan.

Sari van Veenendaal won the goalkeeper’s award. 

The women’s XI was dominated by the World Cup-winning Americans, with Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz, and Kelley O’Hara all included. England’s Lucy Bronze was also selected, along with Sari van Veenendaal, Wendie Renard, Nilla Fischer, Amandine Henry and Brazil legend Marta. 

Having led Liverpool to the European Cup and their highest-ever points total in the Premier League last season, Jurgen Klopp scooped the men’s Coach of the Year award ahead of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino. 

“It is great, nobody expected this 20, 10, five, four years ago that I would be standing here,” said Klopp.

“We know what an incredible job you [Mauricio Pochettino] did and what Pep did. I have to say thank you to my outstanding club Liverpool FC.

“To the owners thank you, they gave me an incredible team. I have to thank my team – as a coach you can only be as good as your team is. I’m really proud of being manager of such an incredible bunch of players.

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“This is an individual prize, I don’t 100% understand individual prizes, I’m here for a lot of people.”

italy-soccer-fifa-awards Jurgen Klopp at the Fifa Best awards at La Scala. Source: Luca Bruno

Klopp also announced he is signing up to the Common Goal project, and will pledge 1% of his salary to charitable causes. 

United States’ manager Jill Ellis unsurprisingly won the women’s award, having led the US to World Cup glory in 2015 and 2019. She was also given the Fifa award for wining the 2015 award, but will step down from the US job after a game with South Korea on 6 October. Speaking ahead of the awards ceremony, Ellis did not rule out the prospect of her next job being in the men’s game. 

italy-soccer-fifa-awards Megan Rapinoe. Source: Luca Bruno

“At this point you don’t rule out anything, in the men’s game there’s obviously a lot of differences. The financial part is much greater I imagine at most levels, but the game is the game.

“Corinne Diacre from France coached a men’s team, there are others who have coached professional men’s teams. We have female coaches in the States in NBA basketball. It’s about ability and proficiency and not gender.”

The Puskas award – a Goal of the Year gong, essentially – went to 18-year-old Hungarian striker Daniel Zsori for this stunning strike on his senior debut for Debrecen. 

Elsewhere, Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United were given the Fair Play award for allowing Aston Villa score a goal in the side’s Championship clash under Bielsa’s instruction. With Villa’s Jonathan Kodja down injured and his team-mates under the impression play would be halted, Leeds played on regardless and scored. Bielsea, however, insisted his side allow Villa equalise immediately. 

That Bielsa and Leeds earned the award in the same year as the infamous Spygate scandal with Frank Lampard’s Derby County was an irony lost on few watching on. 

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