File image of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo together© AFP

Argentina captain Lionel Messi bagged the best FIFA men’s player prize for 2022 on Monday during an award ceremony in Paris. This was the second time that Messi has won the honour inaugurated by FIFA in 2016. The 35-year-old Messi got the award beating his Paris Saint-Germain teammate, and World Cup final rival, Kylian Mbappe as well as Karim benzema. The winner for the award is decided on the basis of the votes casted by the select national team captains and coaches.

One thing which came as a surprise was that Pepe casted the vote as a representative of Portugal in the place of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portugal captain refrained from the voting as the Al-Nassr star was benched in many games during the 2022 FIFA World Cup and hence senior player Pepe was given opportunity to cast his vote.

Pepe voted for Kylian Mbappe as first choice, followed by Luka Modric and Karim Benzema.

The award, which is voted for by national team coaches and captains, journalists and also fans, recognises a year in which the former Barcelona star crowned his glorious career by leading Argentina to victory at the World Cup.

Messi scored twice in an epic final in Doha as Argentina beat France on penalties despite Mbappe netting a hat-trick for Les Bleus in a remarkable 3-3 draw.

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“This year was just mad for me, to be able to achieve my dream that I had fought so hard for. In the end I got it and it was the most beautiful thing that has happened in my career,” Messi said of his World Cup win as he collected his award.

“It is a dream for every footballer but something that very few can make come true,” added Messi, who was sat in the Paris theatre in between Mbappe and his wife Antonella Roccuzzo.

He took the prize just 24 hours after combining with Mbappe to lead PSG to a 3-0 win against Marseille in Ligue 1.

(With AFP Inputs)

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