Abby Wambach, Lionel Messi, Pia Sundhage win FIFA soccer awards

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American Abby Wambach and former U.S. manager Pia Sundhage were named soccer’s 2012 women’s world player and coach of the year Monday at FIFA’s annual awards gala in Zurich, Switzerland.

On the men’s side, Lionel Messi, who scored a record 91 goals for Argentina and FC Barcelona last year, won best-player honors for a fourth consecutive year. No other man has won the award more than three times.

Wambach, the second U.S. woman to win the FIFA prize and the first since Mia Hamm in 2002, scored 27 goals in 32 games last year, including five in six games during her team’s run to a gold medal in the London Olympics.


“Individual honors only happen if you have great teams and great people,” said Wambach, who beat out Brazil’s Marta and teammate Alex Morgan in a vote of coaches and captains from women’s national teams around the world. “I don’t think of myself as the best player in the world, just as a player who plays on the best team in the world.”

Sundhage, who chose to return to her native Sweden after leading the U.S. to its second Olympic title in her five years with the national team, is the first manager of an American team to win a FIFA coaching award. In accepting the prize, Sundhage, who was 88-6-10 with the U.S. women’s team, acknowledged Wambach and Morgan in the audience, then serenaded them with an a cappella version of Bob Dylan’s “If Not for You.”

Spain’s Vicente del Bosque was named men’s coach of the year after guiding Spain to its third consecutive major title in last summer’s European championships.