PARIS: Bayern Munich’s record-setting striker Robert Lewandowski retained FIFA’s top men’s player title Monday at “The Best” of 2021 ceremony as Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas collected the award for best women’s player. The 33-year-old Lewandowski set a Bundesliga goal record last season, and edged Argentine Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-Germain and Egyptian Mohamed Salah of Liverpool for the award. “I’m happy and honoured to win this award, and I feel very proud,” said Lewandowski who scored a total of 48 goals for club and country in 2020-2021. Lewandowski scored three times for Bayern at the weekend taking his 2021-2022 season tally to 39 goals in 33 matches.
The trophy was some consolation for the Polish striker who lost out to Messi for the older and rival award the Ballon d’Or in November. For Putellas, it marked an awards double as the Spaniard triumphed over Barcelona team-mate Jennifer Hermoso and Chelsea’s Australian striker Sam Kerr, just as she did for the Ballon d’Or. The 27-year-old midfielder enjoyed an exceptional 2020-2021 season with Barcelona, leading the Catalans to the Spanish league and cup double as well as the Champions League.
“This trophy is for everyone in the team,” Putellas said. “The trophy will be an inspiration for us all.” The best starting women’s 11 however featured no Barcelona player. Cristiano Ronaldo won the Special Award in recognition of setting a record of most international goals scored for his country, beating Ali Daei’s long-standing mark of 109 for Iran.
The 36-year-old Ronaldo now has 115 goals from 184 games with Portugal after making his debut aged 18 back in 2003. “I never expected to beat this record, and I thank my teammates from these past 20 years,” said Ronaldo, who also holds the record for 140 Champions League goals. Chelsea’s Senegalese stopper Edouard Mendy and Christiane Endler of Lyon won the goalkeeping awards.
Chelsea picked up both coaching awards through Thomas Tuchel and Emma Hayes. “Ultimately, the coach is only as good as the people they have around them,” said Hayes, whose charges were beaten in the Woman’s Champions League final but won the Super League and the League Cup. German coach Tuchel arrived at Chelsea half-way through the season, and transformed an under-achieving side into a ruthless unit to win the prestige Champions League title. “I’m overwhelmed,” said Tuchel. “I enjoy being here, its a good fit.” “I’m grateful to have such supportive people around me, to feel so good in such a competitive club. Erik Lamela, now of Sevilla, won the best goal award for his trick rabona shot for Spurs in the North London derby. The medical staff and players of Denmark, who had to deal with Christian Eriksen’s collapse on the field at the Euro won the “fair-play” award.