Lionel Messi clinched his third FIFA Best Men’s Player award, triumphing over contenders Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.
The Argentine icon, boasting eight Ballon d’Or titles, solidified his status as the planet’s top player, despite stepping away from the highest echelons of the game in 2023 with Inter Miami.
Haaland contributed to Manchester City’s remarkable triumphs in the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League last season, while Mbappe secured honors in Ligue 1 and the Trophee des Champions with Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi’s impact on Major League Soccer was evident, even though Inter Miami’s 2023 season concluded disappointingly in 14th place in the Eastern Conference.
Alfe-Inge Haaland, the father of Erling Haaland, displayed a reaction indicating his disagreement with the choice of the winner, notably raising his eyebrows when Lionel Messi was announced the 2023 FIFA player of the year.
Messi, who was absent from the London ceremony, had presenter Thierry Henry step in to collect the award on his behalf.
During the moment, the Arsenal legend couldn’t resist injecting a playful taunt aimed at fellow presenter Reshmin Chowhury, who happens to be a supporter of rival club Tottenham.
Thierry Henry: “Unfortunately the winner is not here, so I will take it. You are a Tottenham fan, right? You can touch it too. You usually don’t get your hands on a trophy.”
Henry added: “Tonight someone’s going to have to take the trophy, shall I?”
“I actually have two reasons for taking it. I never won it so I’ll keep it.”
Although Haaland might not have secured the top prize, his manager, Pep Guardiola, clinched the FIFA Best Men’s Coach award for guiding his team to a remarkable treble.
On the women’s side, England’s head coach, Sarina Wiegman, was honored with the Women’s Coach prize, while Aitana Bonmati, representing Spain and Barcelona, claimed the title of Best Women’s Player.
In addition, Mary Earps, the goalkeeper for England and Manchester United, not only secured the Best Women’s Goalkeeper award but also earned a spot in the FIFPro Women’s XI alongside her compatriots Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Lauren James, Alessia Russo, Ella Toone, and Keira Walsh.