Pepe, who voted for FIFA The Best Men’s Player award this time as Portugal’s captain, snubbed Lionel Messi from his top three. Instead, the FC Porto star picked PSG’s Kylian Mbappe as his top pick and went for his former Real Madrid teammates, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, as the next two.
Cristiano Ronaldo was supposed to vote, but the Al Nassr star decided to let his teammate take the duties instead. The former Manchester United was the captain at the FIFA World Cup this year but was benched in the knockout games.
Pepe seems to have been nominated as the new captain but there has been no official announcement yet. The FC Porto star did take on the duties of voting for the FIFA The Best Men’s Player award and it could be the start of his journey as the national team captain.
While Pepe snubbed Messi in his vote, the new Portugal manager, Roberto Martinez, voted for the Argetine as his top player of the year. He chose Kevin de Bruyne as his second choice and Mbappe as his third.
Pepe still angry with FIFA The Best Men’s Player winner Lionel Messi?
Pepe cried foul play when Portugal were knocked out by Morocco at the FIFA World Cup last year. He blamed FIFA for appointing an Argentine referee for their match and claimed that he was biased.
He told the Portuguese outlet SIC:
“We conceded a goal that we weren’t expecting but I have to say this is bigger than me and I’m going to have to say it… It’s unacceptable for an Argentine referee to referee our game. After what happened yesterday, with [Lionel] Messi talking, all of Argentina talking and the referee comes here to blow the whistle.”
He went on to claim that Lionel Messi’s Argentina would win the tournament and said:
“I’m not saying that he comes here conditioned… but what did we play the second half? The goalkeeper dropped to the ground. There were only eight minutes of stoppage time. We worked seriously and the referee eight minutes? We didn’t play anything in the second half. The only team that played football was us. We are sad. We had the quality to win the World Cup and we didn’t manage to. I can bet that Argentina will be champions.”
Lionel Messi did eventually win the FIFA World Cup and also took home the FIFA The Best Men’s Player award on Monday.