January 7, 2013
Wambach named FIFA women's player of year, Sundhage selected top coach
ZURICH, Switzerland -- The United States cleaned up at the FIFA Gala Awards ceremony on Monday, as striker Abby Wambach was named women's player of the year and former USA coach Pia Sundhage was selected as women's coach of the year.
|Abby Wambach won the FIFA women's player of the year for the first time.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
As expected, Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi was named winner of the men's player of the year award.
The award capped a memorable year for Wambach, who led the United States to its third consecutive Olympic gold medal. Wambach, who won the award for the first time, became the first American to be honored since Mia Hamm in 2002.
The other finalists were USA teammate Alex Morgan and Brazil's Marta, a five-time award winner.
Sundhage directed the USA to the gold.
"They told me to prepare a speech," Wambach said. "I didn't expect to win."
Wambach thanked Morgan "for challenging me every day in practice," and the coaching and medical staff.
"Winning ... is a total product of the team you play for," Wambach said. "I never scored a goal without getting a pass from someone else."
Sundhage also thanked the USA coaching and medical staff and the players for their help.
"The people around me have been fantastic," she said.
In typical Sundhage fashion, the current Swedish women's national coach sang the second part of her acceptance speech with "If not for you."