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FIFA World Cup 2022 Awards: Golden Ball, Boot and Glove Winners

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 18, 2022

LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - DECEMBER 18: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after the team's victory in the penalty shoot out during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Lionel Messi had a lot more to celebrate this time around after winning the Golden Ball for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The Argentina star was named the player of the tournament in 2014 but cut a forlorn figure in the immediate aftermath of his country's loss to Germany in the final. On Sunday, he finally lifted the one trophy that eluded him to this point in his career.

B/R Football @brfootball

LIONEL MESSI HAS COMPLETED FOOTBALL 🐐 <a href="https://t.co/IvDeNtckee">pic.twitter.com/IvDeNtckee</a>

Not only is Messi now a World Cup champion, but he's also the first two-time Golden Ball winner as the World Cup's most outstanding player. Scoring twice in the final, he finished the tournament with seven goals and three assists.

FIFA World Cup @FIFAWorldCup

⭐️ MESSI ⭐️<br><br>Our <a href="https://twitter.com/adidas?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@adidas</a> Golden Ball Award winner!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FIFAWorldCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIFAWorldCup</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Qatar2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Qatar2022</a>

Kylian Mbappé had a tournament for the ages, culminating in the Golden Boot. He was the leading scorer with eight goals, and his hat trick in the final will be remembered for a long time despite coming in a losing effort.

FIFA World Cup @FIFAWorldCup

The <a href="https://twitter.com/adidas?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@adidas</a> Golden Boot Award goes to Kylian Mbappe! 👏<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Qatar2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Qatar2022</a>'s top goalscorer 📊

Argentina's Emiliano Martínez was the Golden Glove winner as the top goalkeeper.

FIFA World Cup @FIFAWorldCup

There when it matters most 🇦🇷<br><br>Emi Martinez takes the <a href="https://twitter.com/adidas?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@adidas</a> Golden Glove Award! 🧤<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FIFAWorldCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIFAWorldCup</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Qatar2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Qatar2022</a>

Martínez's nod completes quite the individual journey.

In 2019, he was plying his trade in the English Championship on loan with Reading after failing to break through with Arsenal, and he didn't make his senior Argentina debut until 2021. Now, the 30-year-old is a world champion who played a critical role in the final.

Martínez denied Randal Kolo Muani in the third minute of second-half stoppage time to maintain a 3-3 deadlock. Then he stopped Kingsley Coman's effort in the shootout to give his country an early edge.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

WHAT A SAVE BY EMI MARTINEZ 😱 <a href="https://t.co/3d4BohBWVt">pic.twitter.com/3d4BohBWVt</a>

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

SAVED MY EMI MARTINEZ<br><br>France: ✅❌<br>Argentina: ✅ <a href="https://t.co/3HNzdxVHMP">pic.twitter.com/3HNzdxVHMP</a>

Croatia's Dominik Livaković and Morocco's Bono both had solid cases to collect the Golden Glove, but Martínez's heroics tipped the scales in his favor.

As much as he achieved, the 2022 World Cup might be the defining moment of Messi's career, much in the same way the 1986 World Cup is remembered for Diego Maradona.

What this meant for the 35-year-old was evident in how his teammates reacted after Gonzalo Montiel converted the decisive penalty.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Messi's teammates might never let go ❤️🇦🇷 <a href="https://t.co/NMMCVJnlT7">pic.twitter.com/NMMCVJnlT7</a>

tariq panja @tariqpanja

Quite amazing to see Messi embraced by every one of his teammates, almost every single one of them is in tear when they give him a cuddle. He's not. Just a massive Cheshire cat grin. The relief and the joy of it all for him. What an outcome.

Maradona cast a long shadow, both because of what he helped the national team win on the pitch and what he symbolized for supporters. Nobody understood that more than Messi.

His relationship with fans from Argentina was somewhat strained as La Albiceleste fell short at major tournament after major tournament. Leading up to the 2022 World Cup, the country began rallying around him in a way it never had before.

If Argentina had lost to France, Messi probably wouldn't have been made the scapegoat because of how well he played across the tournament. But the absence of a World Cup winner's medal would've followed him forever.

Instead, Messi might now have supplanted both Maradona and Pelé in the argument over the greatest player of all time.