MONACO: Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and manager Pep Guardiola won UEFA awards on Thursday for the best men’s player and coach of the year as women’s winners Aitana Bonmati and Sarina Wiegman addressed the turmoil in Spanish soccer in their speeches.
Norwegian Haaland beat his team mate Kevin De Bruyne and 2022 World Cup champion Lionel Messi after helping City win three major trophies, the Champions League, English Premier League and FA Cup.
The 22-year-old, who on Tuesday was named England’s Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Player of the Year, scored 52 goals in 53 matches across all competitions last season.
“I won the treble at the age of 22. I’m kind of living the dream,” he said at the ceremony in Monaco. “This season is about keeping my head clear. Even more eyes will be on me and my team after winning the Champions League. We have to be sharper and more prepared.”
Guardiola was voted ahead of Italians Luciano Spalletti, who led Napoli to their first Serie A title in 33 years, and Simone Inzaghi whose Inter Milan side were Champions League runners-up and won the Italian Cup.
The Spanish manager was not present to receive the award as he is recovering from his back surgery.
England coach Sarina Wiegman took the prize for the Women’s Coach of the Year after leading the Lionesses to this year’s World Cup final and victory in the Finalissima against Brazil at Wembley in April.
Wiegman dedicated her award to the Spain women’s team after the kiss incident involving federation president Luis Rubiales took the spotlight when Spain secured their first Women’s World Cup title.
“(Receiving this award) feels a little different,” Wiegman said. “We all know the issues around the Spanish team and it really hurts me as a coach, as a mother of two daughters, as a wife and as a human being.
“The game has grown so much but there’s also still a long way to go in women’s football and society.
“I would like to dedicate this award to the Spanish team – the tam that played in a World Cup such great football that everyone enjoys. This team deserves to be celebrated and listened to.”
World Cup winner Aitana Bonmati, who helped Barcelona to Women’s Champions League and Spanish league title, won the women’s player of the year award.
The 25-year-old registered a competition-high 13 goal contributions in the Champions League with five goals and eight assists.
“I would like to thank Sarina for her words because this is not a good moment in Spanish football,” Bonmati said.
“We have just won the World Cup, but they are talking about other things.”