The Ballon d’Or remains the most prestigious accolade when the football award season rolls around.
In the last 12 years, the prize has been claimed by Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo on 11 occasions – with Luka Modric the anomaly.
But there’s another award dished out that the pair haven’t quite dominated. In fact, Messi hasn’t even got his hands on it – although Ronaldo did back in 2009.
Of course, we’re talking about the FIFA Puskas Award – the award named after Ferenc Puskas, the Hungary and Real Madrid legend.
The award is given to the player who has scored the most aesthetically pleasing, “beautiful” goal of the calendar year. Of course, what’s “beautiful” to one person may not be “beautiful” to another.
We’re not quite sure of the system used by FIFA but they *usually* come up with a worthy winner.
And now, inspired by Planet Football, we’ve decided to rank the 11 winners of the Puskas Award since its inception.
11 | Mohamed Salah | 2017
After Mohamed Salah claimed the award for his curler against Everton, James Milner tweeted: “Congrats @MoSalah on your 7th best goal from last season winning goal of the year.”
It was tongue-in-cheek but Milner wasn’t far wrong.
Salah’s effort was decent as he wriggles away from two Everton defenders before curling a beautiful effort into the top corner past Jordan Pickford. But the Egyptian had scored many goals like that during the 2017/18 season.
Decent but worthy of winning the Puskas Award? No chance.
Amazingly, it beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s incredible overhead kick for Real Madrid against Juventus.
10 | Wendell Lira | 2015
We all love an overhead kick but Wendell Lira’s effort isn’t *that* good. The Brazilian scored his acrobatic effort for Goianésia in a 2–1 win over Atlético-GO and it staggeringly received 46.7% of the total votes. In second, was Lionel Messi’s incredible solo goal against Athletic Bilbao. Sorry, we’re not having that.
9 | Miroslav Stoch | 2012
We all remember attempting a ’Scholesy’ when we were younger and instantly realising it’s a lot harder than it looks. But Miroslav Stoch nailed it back in 2012 when he side-footed a volley from a corner for Fenerbache vs Gençlerbirligi.
It picked up a crazy 78% of the vote.
8 | Mohd Faiz Subri | 2016
One of the best free-kicks we’ve ever seen. Mohd Faiz Subri struck an absolute howitzer in the Malaysian Super League clash between Penang and Pahang back in 2016.
But does he really intend to put that much swerve on it so it ends up in the top corner? His reaction suggests otherwise…
We just think he’s hit it as hard as he could and it somehow arrowed into the top corner. Incredible goal but we feel there’s a lack of technical ability.
7 | Cristiano Ronaldo | 2009
Ronaldo has scored a few unbelievable goals during his unbelievable career. We’ve already mentioned how his overhead kick against Juventus was robbed of winning the award in 2017.
This wasn’t quite as good technically, but a 40-yard screamer in the Champions League isn’t bad. Just look how hard he hits it!
Ronaldo only received 17.68% of the votes with this goal, with fourth place Eliran Atar picking up 13.36%. That’s how close it was.
6 | James Rodriguez | 2014
Imagine doing this in a World Cup knockout tie.
James Rodriguez was ridiculously good at the 2014 World Cup and earned himself a lucrative move to Real Madrid.
He chests the ball down with his back to goal, swivels and smashes an unstoppable volley off the underside of the crossbar as he helps his Colombian side beat Uruguay. Simply stunning.
Second place that year was Stephanie Roche, who scored an unreal volley in the Irish Women’s National League. We’d say it was even better than Rodriguez’s…
5 | Hamit Altintop | 2010
You know we were talking about doing a ‘Scholesy’?
Well, maybe we should start calling it an ‘Altintopy.’ Ok, it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it but Altintop’s goal for Turkey against Kazakhstan in a Euro 2012 qualifier was just stupendous.
4 | Daniel Zsori | 2019
Imagine scoring on your senior debut. Imagine scoring a 93rd-minute winner on your senior debut. Imagine scoring a 93rd-winner against the league leaders on your senior debut. Imagine scoring an outrageous overhead kick in the 93rd-minute against the league leaders on your senior debut.
Completed it, mate.
Debrecen’s Daniel Zsori did that against Ferencvaros in the Hungarian top-flight as he edged out Lionel Messi’s lovely dink against Real Betis.
3 | Neymar | 2011
Stop it, Neymar.
Back in his Santos days, Neymar decided to have a bit of fun in their match against Flamengo – a match Santos actually lost 5-4.
After picking the ball up on the touchline, he beats two opponents with outrageous skill. He then plays a one-two with a teammate before beating the last defender with the most amazing piece of trickery that we can’t even begin to explain. And then there’s the finish with the outside of his foot.
2 | Olivier Giroud | 2017
Yes, we really are putting a scorpion kick that goes in off the underside of the crossbar in second place. The fact that Henrikh Mkhitaryan did something very similar a week before does throw a bit of shade on it, in fairness.
While we’re not denying the incredible skill required for Giroud to flick the ball off his heel towards goal, even he admitted there was luck involved. You do get the impression he hoped for the best but it just so happened that the best happened.
1 | Zlatan Ibrahimovic | 2013
The greatest Puskas Award winner ever.
To be fair, how can you argue with a 30-yard overhead kick being No.1?
Ok, England goalkeeper Joe Hart made a right mess of things but 99.9% of players would have brought the ball down and attempted a ‘normal’ shot. But not Zlatan. He didn’t think twice to produce a stunning overhead kick which sailed over Hart and the England defence into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the game.