The final installment of the football awards season took place at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Monday with FIFA’s The Best awards. The other major awards — Ballon d’Or, the Globe Soccer awards and the UEFA player awards — all took place in recent months.
The men’s and women’s Player of the Year awards were handed out (Robert Lewandowski & Alexia Putellas), and the top coaches (Thomas Tuchel & Emma Hayes), best goalkeepers (Edouard Mendy & Christiane Endler) and most spectacular goal (Erik Lamela) were also recognized. In addition, the FIFPro Best XI were unveiled for men and women (full squads below).
Lewandowski finally won an award in recognition for his standout 2021 campaign after missing out on both the Ballon d’Or to Lionel Messi and the Globe Soccer Award to Kylian Mbappe. For Barcelona’s Putellas, it was a clean sweep of all the major awards.
Lewandowski definitely had a better shot at this award since the main FIFA awards are voted on by: 1) current national team coaches; 2) the current captain of every national team; 3) one specialist journalist from each territory; and 4) fans registered on FIFA.com. Each of the four groups of votes carries the same weight (25 percent each). The Puskas Award for the best goal in the world, the Fair Play award and the Fan Award had different voting rules.
The event started off with a special recognition for Canadian star and the world’s all-time leading international goal scorer, Christine Sinclair, who won the FIFA Lifetime Achievement Award. The event ended with a special award for Cristiano Ronaldo for being the all-time record scorer in men’s international football.
FIFA Player of the Year (Men’s)
- Winner: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich / Poland)
“I’m very honored to win this trophy,” he said via video conference. “I feel very proud and I feel happiness because this trophy also belongs to my teammates and coaches. We all work hard to winning the games and winning the trophies. It makes it special to work with all the guys around me.”
|Robert Lewandowski||FW||Bayern Munich||Poland|
FIFA Player of the Year (Women’s)
- Winner: Alexia Putellas (Barcelona / Spain)
|Jennifer Hermoso||FW||FC Barcelona||Spain|
|Alexia Putellas||MF||FC Barcelona||Spain|
FIFPro World XI
The Best XI of the season for both men and women were voted on by the players. Incredibly, Alexia Putellas didn’t end up among the midfielders for the women’s team and not a single Barcelona player was named.
FIFPro Women’s XI
Goalkeeper: Christiane Endler (Lyon / Chile)
Defenders: Lucy Bronze (Man City / England), Wendie Renard (Lyon / France), Millie Bright (Chelsea / England), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea / Sweden)
Midfielders (3): Estefania Banini (Atletico Madrid / Argentina), Carli Lloyd (USA), Barbara Bonansea (Juventus / Italy)
Forwards (3): Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal / Netherlands), Marta (Orlando Pride / Brazil), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave / USA)
Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi made it on the men’s Best XI with four forwards named. This formation is frankly unprecedented when it comes to Best XI sides.
FIFPro Men’s XI
Goalkeeper (1): Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG / Italy)
Defenders (3): David Alaba (Real Madrid / Austria), Ruben Dias (Man City / Portugal), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus / Italy)
Midfielders (3): Jorginho (Chelsea / Italy), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea / France), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City / Belgium)
Forwards (4): Cristiano Ronaldo (Man United / Portugal), Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund / Norway), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich / Poland), Lionel Messi (PSG / Argentina)
FIFA Puskas Award
- Winner: Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur / currently Sevilla FC)
The rabona goal by Argentina attacker Erik Lamela (watch it here) won out as the winner of the prestigious Puskas Award for the best goal scored anywhere in the world in 2021. “In that moment I didn’t think too much about it,” Lamela said via video conference. “I never practice this shot during training. It’s something that normally comes in one second, finding the best way to shoot the ball.”
The Puskas Award has been around since 2009 for the most “aesthetically pleasing goal, regardless of competition” and “without the result of luck or a mistake.” It’s named after the Hungarian player Ferenc Puskas, who was known for his spectacular tallies at Real Madrid.
A list of 11 candidates was drawn up by an expert panel and the winner was voted on by FIFA legends and fans around the world via FIFA.com. Votes from the two groups (legends and fans) carried the same weight: 50 percent each.
|Erik Lamela||Tottenham Hotspur||at Arsenal||March 14, 2021||Premier League|
|Patrik Schick||Czech Republic||vs. Scotland||June 14, 2021||Euro 2021|
|Mehdi Taremi||FC Porto||at Chelsea||April 13, 2021||UEFA Champions League|
FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year (Men’s)
- Winner: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea / Senegal)
This could be seen as an upset win for Edouard Mendy after Gigi Donnarumma won both the Yashin Trophy for goalkeeper of the year at the Ballon d’Or and the Globe Soccer top goalkeeper honor. Donnarumma stood on his head as Italy won Euro 2021.
Mendy previously captured Europe’s UEFA Champions League goalkeeper of the season honor for helping Chelsea win the continental club title.
|Manuel Neuer||GK||Bayern Munich||Germany|
FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year (Women’s)
- Winner: Christiane Endler (Olympique Lyon / Chile)
Christiane Endler won the award for the first time in three tries, beating out Canada’s Stephanie Labbe who played a huge part in helping Canada to Olympic gold.
“I’m the first one in Latin America to win this prize and it’s an honor for me,” Endler said. “It’s the third time I’m here. I was awaiting all the time to win it, and finally it’s the right time. Thank you to everyone who voted for me. I cannot be more proud.”
There was no Goalkeeper of the Year award for women as part of the Ballon d’Or or the Globe Soccer awards in Dubai, so this will be the primary global recognition for 2021. Barcelona’s Sandra Panos, who is not a finalist for the FIFA award, won the UEFA Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year award for European football.
|Christiane Endler||GK||Olympique Lyon||Chile|
FIFA Coach of the Year (Men’s)
- Winner: Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea)
After winning the UEFA men’s coach of the year in Europe, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel won the FIFA The Best award. It made for a clean sweep for Chelsea coaches after Chelsea women’s coach Emma Hayes won the women’s award.
Italy’s Roberto Mancini previously won the Globe Soccer men’s coach award, leaving Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola out in the cold during award season.
“It was a normal day so far. I’ve just come from training because we have a game tomorrow,” Tuchel said via video conference. “But you [Arsene Wenger] opened the envelope and said my name which is pretty surreal. I’m overwhelmed and I feel uncomfortable, actually.
“We lost a bit track to Manchester City in the [Premier] league, but in other competitions we follow our goals still, and we try to be the best versions of ourselves and try to perform at the highest level.”
|Pep Guardiola||Manchester City||50||English Premier League champion|
English League Cup winner
UEFA Champions League finalist
FA Cup semi-finalist
|Roberto Mancini||Italy||57||UEFA Euro 2021 winner|
UEFA Nations League semifinalist
37-match record unbeaten streak
|Thomas Tuchel||Chelsea||48||UEFA Champions League winner|
UEFA Super Cup winner
FA Cup finalist
FIFA Coach of the Year (Women’s)
- Winner: Emma Hayes (Chelsea)
This was thought to be a formality after Lluis Cortes won the three major trophies in the 2021 season with FC Barcelona and also won the UEFA Women’s Coach of the Year. But Chelsea coach Emma Hayes came away with the honor and she was speechless at the news.
“Wow. Honest, I’m not usually stunned, but I am. I’m completely shocked,” Hayes said on a video conference. “I put it down to the players and the fantastic people that represent my work. And ultimately, the coach is only as good as the people around them and I’ve got briliant people at Chelsea that have helped support the team to get to where we’re at. I’m abosluitely shocked right now.”
|Lluis Cortes||FC Barcelona|
|35||Primera Division champions|
Copa de la Reina winner
UEFA Champions League winner
Supercopa Femenina semi-finalist
|Emma Hayes||Chelsea||45||Women’s Super League champions|
Women’s FA Cup winner
Women’s League Cup winner
Women’s Community Shield winner
UEFA Champions League finalist
|52||6W-2L-2D with Netherlands in 2021|
2021 Olympic quarterfinals
43 goals scored in 11 matches
FIFA Fan Award
- Winner: Denmark and Finland fans
This FIFA award has been around since 2016 and as the name suggests, it recognizes fans for an exceptional moment or gesture. This honor for the fans was voted on by the fans. These were the three finalists:
Denmark and Finland fans at Parken Stadium: For their shows of support in the wake of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest episode at Euro 2021.
German football supporters: Supporters groups around Germany mobilized to help local communities after devastating floods that claimed more than 170 lives. Borussia Dortmund and FC Koln fans were among the fans that stepped up to collect money and other donations.
Imogen Papworth-Heidel: The 11-year-old girl who created a keepy-uppy challenge to raise money for essential workers in the UK during the pandemic. She did over a million of them herself.
FIFA Fair Play Award
- Winner: Denmark national team (players and staff)
It was a foregone conclusion that Denmark’s national team would win this award. “I think this award is for the whole of Denmark, which was standing shoulder by shoulder and standing by us as a team.”
This award annually recognizes gestures of sportsmanship, fairness and other good deeds around the sport. The list of finalists follows below:
Scott Brown: The Aberdeen player/coach was a member of Celtic when before a rivalry match against Rangers, he went out of his way to shake Glen Kamara’s hand in the wake of a racist incident Kamara experienced in European competition.
Denmark national team (players and staff): The Danish men’s team is up for the award for its collective response to the Christian Eriksen cardiac arrest at Euro 2021.
Claudio Ranieri: The current Watford coach is a candidate for having his Sampdoria team give Inter Milan the guard of honor in recognition of their clinching the Italian Serie A title.