Italy: Argentine Lionel Messi won the best FIFA player of the year award for a record sixth time in Milan’s iconic La Scala Opera House on Monday.
Messi, who won the Spanish La Liga title with Barcelona last season as well as the European golden boot having scored 54 goals in 58 games in all competitions, last won the award in 2015.
Barcelona striker Messi’s victory was a surprise as he edged out Virgil Van Dijk, who won the UEFA player’s award last month after helping Liverpool to the Champions League last season. Juventus forward Ronaldo had also been shortlisted for the award, but did not attend the ceremony as he was named in FIFA’s World 11 best team along with Messi.
Messi’s win at the La Scala Opera house in Milan also marks a return to the dominance of the Argentine and Ronaldo, who between them have won the award all but once since 2007.
Both Messi, 32, and Van Dijk, 28, are now in the running for the coveted Ballon d’Or which will be announced on December 2.
On the other hand, US co-captain Megan Rapinoe won the women’s top award.
Megan Rapinoe beat fellow World Cup winner Alex Morgan and England’s Lucy Bronze to the women’s prize, with her USA coach Jill Ellis lifting the women’s coaching award.
Rapinoe, 34, was joint top scorer with six goals at the women’s World Cup and won the Golden Boot, also gaining the Golden Ball for the best player and becoming the face of the tournament for her outspoken views on US president Donald Trump and campaigning for LGBT rights.