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Aitana Bonmatí caps off career-year with Best FIFA award

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: FIFA Best Women's Award Winner, Aitana Bonmati speaks on stage during the The Best FIFA Football Awards 2023 at The Apollo Theatre on January 15, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Kate Green/FIFA via Getty Images)

Spain’s Aitana Bonmatí capped off a career-best year by being named women’s footballer of the year at The Best FIFA Awards for 2023.

The 25-year-old was one of three players on the shortlist for the award alongside Spain teammate Jenni Hermoso and Real Madrid forward Linda Caicedo, who was runner-up for the award.

In her speech, Bonmatí said that she was “proud” to be part of a generation of women that are “changing the game and the world.” Both Bonmatí and Hermoso helped Spain to its first Women’s World Cup last August. Since then, the Spanish national team and federation has undergone major changes after then-Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed Hermoso on the lips.

Rubiales eventually resigned while women’s team coach Jorge Vilda left his post amidst the fallout.

“A couple of weeks ago I was nostalgic for an exceptional and unique year, but starting out this year collecting this award I feel very proud,” Bonmatí said. “I owe this to Barça, to the national team, I owe it to the great season that we’ve played. I’d like to thank my teammates, without all of you I wouldn’t be here. I’d also like to say I am proud to be part of a powerful generation of women who are changing the game and the world.”

Bonmatí also won the Golden Ball award at the World Cup, the Ballon d’Or and was named UEFA Women’s player of the year and Champions League player of the season for her 2022-23 campaign.

Brazilian star Marta also received a lifetime achievement award. During her speech, she urged the audience to “search every day” for ways to improve equality.

“Try to make the world better for everyone. That’s my message to everyone, to every person who has the power [to make changes],” Marta added, before motioning to Hermoso as an example. “The next generations will thank you for that.”