U.S. national team star Carli Lloyd won FIFA's women's player of the year award and her coach, Jill Ellis, was named the women's coach of the year Monday, giving the World Cup champions a sweep of international soccer's top individual prizes.
Lionel Messi of Barcelona and the Argentine national team won the men's award for a record fifth time. Luis Enrique, Messi's club coach in Spain, was named men's coach of the year.
Lloyd's hat trick in the opening 16 minutes of last July's World Cup final with Japan brought the U.S. its first world championship in 16 years, helping her become the third American to win player of the year honors after Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach. Lloyd, 33, finished with six goals in four elimination games in the tournament, three of them game-winners. She scored a career-high 18 international goals last season.
"For so many years in my career I haven't been recognized," Lloyd said last week before leaving for Zurich, Switzerland, and the FIFA awards gala. "There have been others on our team – amazing players – that have had more of the recognition. And there's a lot of people that always ask me, 'Why haven't you had the recognition that you deserve?'
"It's been a tough road in that regard. I guess it took scoring three goals in a World Cup final for people to start to know my name. But I just went about my business through the years."
Ellis, who guided the U.S. through the longest and most competitive Women's World Cup unbeaten, is the second U.S. national team leader to win the coach's award following Swede Pia Sundhage, who won in 2012 after a successful campaign in the London Olympics.
"It's amazing to be part of an amazing football family," the British-born Ellis told reporters. "This certainly represents a whole lot of people. To our players, our captains, our staff back in the USA, it's my sincere gratitude to your effort and your belief in this team.
"To my friends and family, my parents are here tonight, my dad was my first coach – it's a thrill to have him here. To FIFA, our own federation, to [U,S. Soccer Federation President] Sunil Gulati, thank you for your belief and investment and continued belief in women's football."
The winners were chosen in a vote of national team coaches and captains as well as a select group of international media representatives.