The Best FIFA Awards gala took place on Monday night with the great and good of the beautiful game descending upon Paris for one of football’s most prestigious and clumsily named annual ceremonies.
As per tradition, FIFA member states are allowed to vote through National Team head coach and Captain.
Flames coach Marian Mario Marinica and John Banda were given an opportunity to vote for men’s and women’s player of the year.
The big winners on the night were Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas, who were crowned best men’s and best women’s player of the year, respectively, while the equivalent coaching awards went to Lionel Scaloni of Argentina and Sarina Wiegman of England.
It has been revealed that Marinica, who has a task of taking Malawi to 2023 Afcon in Senegal, snubbed Messi for Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, PSG’ Achraf Hakimi and Bayern Munich’ Sadio Mane.
On the other hand, Banda voted for Messi, Neymar and Hakimi. Malawi’s media representative Peter Kanjere opted for Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Mane.
Some of the many big names who voted for Messi were national captains Harry Kane (England), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Leonardo Bonucci (Italy), Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands), Robert Lewandowski (Poland) and former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets (Spain).
Among the national team coaches, Gareth Southgate (England), Roberto Mancini (Italy), Hansi Flick (Germany) and Roberto Martinez (Portugal), all voted for Messi, while France coach Didier Deschamps opted for Mbappe in somewhat predictable fashion.
As well as helping to anoint Messi, Scaloni also threw in a curious nod for Julian Alvarez as his second best player of the year — the only vote received by the young Manchester City striker. Egypt skipper Mohamed Salah submitted a fairly unusual top three ballot too, naming Vinicius Junior as his player of the year ahead of Kevin De Bruyne and Hakimi.
Messi inspired Argentina to their second FIFA World Cup title following their penalty shootout win over the then defending champions France.
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