At the end of 2021, the soccer world was outraged by the defeat of Robert Lewandowski and the scandalous victory of Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or. Now Bayern Munich’s Polish striker has taken revenge by becoming FIFA’s Player of the Year and taking home the prestigious The Best award. The foreign media stated that “justice has finally been done” and that Lewandowski “got his revenge on Messi” and stressed that it was the first time that the Ballon d’Or and The Best award were given to two different players in the same year.
Lewandowski was unequivocally the strongest player in the world in 2021 – and the International Football Federation (FIFA) did not question it, presenting him with The Best award, the trophy for the best player of the year, late on the evening of January 17.
At that time, the award of France Football was openly criticized by soccer legends and journalists – and there is no denying that the award did resemble a farce, and the award seemed to be given for the popularity of the player in the world, rather than for soccer achievements.
Messi in 2021 took only the Spanish Cup and the America’s Cup (in both tournaments the level of opposition was quite low), in La Liga has never scored and did not give assists in matches against major rivals – Real Madrid and Atletico, – and after the transition to PSG and completely deflated: difficult adaptation and conflicts with the head coach led to the fact that even in the uncompetitive Ligue 1 Argentine can not properly prove themselves.
In the Champions League he scored 11 goals, and in the German championship – 43, which allowed him to beat the record of the legendary Gerd Muller on goals in the Bundesliga in one year, which was equal to 42 goals and was held since 1972!
Not surprisingly, Lewandowski won the Golden Boot – the award for top scorer of the season.
As a member of the Polish national team at the European Championship, the striker managed to score three goals in three games thanks to his personal skill, despite the failure of his weak team.
At the level of team trophies, Lewandowski won the German championship and the German Super Cup with Bayern – two titles, just like the Argentine. There is little doubt of his superiority in the past year.
“It’s a great honour for me, I’m very proud and happy,” Lewandowski admitted at the award ceremony. – I dedicate this The Best trophy to everyone around me.
I would not have dared to dream that everything that happened to me in 2021 would happen, including the record for goals in the Bundesliga. It’s a pity Gerd Müller is no longer with us: it was only thanks to his example that I achieved all this. I always wonder what else I could do to break a new record.
The Polish media celebrated Lewandowski’s victory. The publication Sporza claimed that the Bayern forward took revenge on Messi.
“Lewandowski won The Best and got his revenge on Messi. The Argentine was now second in the voting, as Lewandowski had previously been in the running for the Ballon d’Or.
The Polish edition of Sportowe facty paid attention to who Messi voted for in the FIFA nomination (as the captain of the Argentina team, he also chose the winner):
“The way Messi voted is just a shame. A very original choice of the best player: in first place he put his buddy Neymar, who has nothing to remember in 2021. In second place Messi put his other teammate Kylian Mbappe, and in third place Karim Benzema.
- That is, Messi did not mention Lewandowski at all, who had an amazing year and broke Gerd Müller’s record in the Bundesliga!”
Apparently, the Argentine was hoping to win a second award in a row, so he decided not to give the advantage to his opponent. Messi did concede very little to Lewandowski – 44 points against 48 (third place went to Mohamed Salah with 39 points).
Sportowe Fakty journalist Marek Wawrzynowski stressed how important it was for the Polish striker to take The Best award after being knocked out by a loss for the Ballon d’Or.
An unprecedented event in the history of Polish soccer.
Lewandowski needed this victory after losing in the Ballon d’Or vote. It’s a triumph with a special aftertaste.
In my opinion, people who voted for Messi forgot the most important fact: Lewandowski broke Müller’s record for goals in the Bundesliga, which stood for a full 49 years! This is a momentous occasion. While Messi is weak at PSG, Robert scores like a robot and brings victories to Bayern,” Wawrzynowski told Championship.
Spanish newspaper Marca, which closely follows Messi’s career, noted that for the first time since 2016, France Football’s Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s The Best award have different winners.
- “Lewandowski took revenge on the Argentine for the Ballon d’Or. The Pole beat Messi and achieved a historic success. For the first time since these prizes are awarded separately, they have different triumphators,” wrote the authors of Marca.
Recall that from 2010 to 2015, these prizes were combined and presented under the common name “Ballon d’Or”. In 2016, they were separated, and now France Football magazine presents its Golden Ball award, and FIFA – The Best award.
The voting procedures are also different. The Ballon d’Or winner is selected by 180 soccer journalists – one per country – and the winner of The Best is selected by the media, coaches and captains of the national teams, as well as fans (their opinion is 25% of the votes). It turns out that The Best award is now more objective, and its authority in the soccer world this year won back many points from the more hyped Ballon d’Or.
Also that evening, Eduard Mendy received the FIFA Best Goalkeeper award, Thomas Tuchel became the best coach, Eric Lamela was recognized as the author of the most beautiful goal, and Cristiano Ronado received a separate prize as the best goalscorer in the history of national teams.