Messi’s victory came as a surprise for a lot of people as he leapfrogged Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil Van Djik to the title even though the Dutch defender won the UEFA player’s award last month after helping Liverpool to the Champions League last season.
The captains and coaches from the various teams around the world had a vote in deciding the winner and Indian football team skipper Sunil Chhetri and coach Igor Stimac also played a part in the process.
While Chhetri selected Van Djik as his top preference with Messi and Mohamed Salah as the next two choices. Stimac, on the other hand, chose Ronaldo with Van Djik and Hazard as his next two options.
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.
Rapinoe beat fellow World Cup winner Alex Morgan and England’s Lucy Bronze to the women’s title, with US coach Jill Ellis winning women’s coaching award.
The 34-year-old Rapinoe won the Golden Boot for being top scorer and the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup, and also became the face of the tournament for her outspoken views on US president Donald Trump.
Messi was top scorer in the Champions League last season with 12 goals before Barcelona were dumped out by Liverpool in the semi-finals, Barca throwing away a three-goal first-leg lead with a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Anfield.
The Argentine also won the European Golden Shoe after scoring 36 goals, won La Liga title with Barcelona and helped Argentina to bronze at 2019 Copa America.