Zurich (dpa) – Robert Lewandowski buttoned up the chic jacket and took the small silver cup with a grin. “It’s an incredible feeling,” said the brand new World Player of the Year. “I am very proud and very satisfied.”
After his great year 2020 with the three-time winner FC Bayern, the 32-year-old triumphed in the FIFA world association election ahead of subscription winners Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus Turin and Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona. “A great day,” said Lewandowski, who was personally honored by FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the digital gala.
Munich’s Hansi Flick, on the other hand, missed the freestyle to become the world’s best coach – the award went to Liverpool’s master coach Jürgen Klopp. National team captain Manuel Neuer was honored as the best goalkeeper of the year. “What we have done as a team is absolutely amazing,” said Lewandowski, expressly thanking his teammates and coaches.
Winning the award in the era of Messi and Ronaldo “means a lot to me,” added the star striker, who led Bayern to the German championship and victory in the DFB Cup and Champions League. Lewandowski was the top scorer in all three competitions. “It’s a wonderful feeling,” he said.
In addition, the German record champions had won the national and European Supercups. Lewandowski earned a premiere with his brilliant performance: for the first time, a professional from the Bundesliga won the prestigious FIFA election as a world football player. “In my opinion, I couldn’t escape this award,” said DFL Director Christian Seifert, who praised the Munich man as an “exceptional striker who is one of the best players in Bundesliga history”. Neuer’s election is “as well deserved as it is gratifying.
The votes of the national coaches and captains of the selection teams of the FIFA member associations and selected journalists and fans from around the world were equally decisive. Voting was possible until December 9. Lewandowski got 52 points, ahead of Ronaldo (38) and Messi (35). In fan vote, the Munich man also surpassed the globally popular superstars. The only German title holder remains the record player Lothar Matthäus from the premiere year 1991, which at the time was played for Inter Milan.
Klopp won the coaching title for the second time in a row. After triumphing in the 2019 Champions League, he led the Reds to their first English championship in 30 years last season. “We have not dreamed for 30 years, but we have done a few. It was absolutely extraordinary that we succeeded in the summer,” said the former Bundesliga coach, smartly dressed in a dark suit, adding in view the Corona crisis: “Everyone had a very special year – unfortunately not in a positive way.”
Klopp and Flick were tied in the election – the national team coaches’ votes were decisive for the former Dortmund. “I was actually surprised, I must say,” said Klopp. “It’s a great honor and hard to believe, to be honest.”
FIFA has been named World Coach of the Year since 2010. Jupp Heynckes (2013) and then world champion trainer Joachim Löw (2014) managed to beat Klopp last year. The best coach went to Sarina Wiegman from the Netherlands, who last coached the national team of female footballers in her country and now works for England.
Neuer was wearing a black suit with a turtleneck and smiled at the camera. “It’s been one of the best years of my career, it’s great what we’ve achieved,” said the 2014 World Champion. He first won the award, introduced in 2017, and added, in view of the final tournament in the highest class in Portugal: “Especially what we do Lisbon has made it.”
The English Lucy Bronze, who won the Champions League with Olympique Lyon, was named World Footballer of the Year. A German national player did not make the top three. Four three-time Bavarians took the FIFA world eleven in Alphonso Davies, Joshua Kimmich, Thiago (now Liverpool FC) and Lewandowski. Former Leverkusen-based Heung-Min Son scored the best goal of the year with his solo run for Tottenham Hotspur against Burnley FC on December 7, 2019.