The Best FIFA Football Awards 2021: Best Men’s Player, Puskas Award, favourites and date

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • Updated: 17 Jan 2022 21:05 CET
  • 15 min read
FT Desk Updated: 17 Jan 2022 21:05 CET 15 min read
Robert Lewandowski, Gianni Infantino, FIFA The Best 2021

Robert Lewandowski picked up the Best FIFA Men's Player award for 2021, claiming the prize for the second successive year after scooping it 12 months ago.

The Bayern Munich striker beat Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-Germain and Mohamed Salah of Liverpool to the gong.

He had previously missed out on the Ballon d'Or, which had gone to the Argentine star.


Previously named the FIFA World Player of the Year upon its inception in 1991 until 2009, the recently rebranded award has been called The Best FIFA Men’s Player trophy since 2016.

Germany icon Lothar Matthaus was the first winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year back in 1991 and Lewandowski is the current holder due to his exploits with Bayern Munich in the 2019-20 season.

FIFA continued with their award last year as the hitman triumphed, while the 2020 Ballon d'Or was controversially cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here at FootballTransfers, we have compiled everything you need to know about the 2021 The Best FIFA Men’s Player award.

Who won The Best FIFA Football Awards 2021?

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski won the headline prize, the Best FIFA Men's Footballer, beating Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah to the award.

Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy won the Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper, while manager Thomas Tuchel claimed the Best FIFA Men's Coach.

In the women's game, Barcelona's Alexia Putellas won the Best FIFA Women's Player, Christiane Endler of Paris Saint-Germain claimed the Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper and Emma Hayes completed a Chelsea double on the management front by winning the Best FIFA Women's coach.

Tottenham's Erik Lamela won the Puskas Prize for his goal against Arsenal, which was an audacious rabona.

The Best FIFA Football Award winners 2021

The Best FIFA Men's PlayerRobert Lewandowski (Bayern)
The Best FIFA Men's GoalkeeperEdouard Mendy (Chelsea)
The Best FIFA Men's CoachThomas Tuchel (Chelsea)
The Best FIFA Women's PlayerAlexia Petellas (Barcelona)
The Best FIFA Women's GoalkeeperChiristiane Endler (PSG)
The Best FIFA Women's CoachEmma Hayes (Chelsea)
FIFA Puskas AwardErik Lamela (Tottenham)
FIFA Fair Play AwardDenmark national football team
FIFA Fan AwardDenmark and Finland

Cristiano Ronaldo earns special award

There was a special award for Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo in recognition of his achievement in setting a new record for international goals.

Ronaldo netted 115 times for Portugal at the time of the ceremony, which is more international goals than anyone in the history of the game, undoubtedly an achievement worth celebrating at The Best awards.

Who is nominated for The Best FIFA Football Awards 2021?

The shortlists for The Best FIFA Football Awards were unveiled on 22 November.

What was the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Player?

On 7 January, an 11-man shortlist was reduced to three players.

The final three nominees for The Best FIFA Men's Player were:

  • Robert Lewandowski (Poland / FC Bayern München)
  • Mohamed Salah (Egypt / Liverpool FC)
  • Lionel Messi (Argentina / FC Barcelona / Paris Saint-Germain)

Eight originally-shortlisted players to be eliminated at this point were:

  • Karim Benzema (France / Real Madrid CF)
  • Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium / Manchester City FC)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal / Juventus FC / Manchester United FC)
  • Erling Haaland (Norway / BV Borussia 09 Dortmund)
  • Jorginho (Italy / Chelsea FC)
  • N’Golo Kanté (France / Chelsea FC)
  • Kylian Mbappé (France / Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Neymar (Brazil / Paris Saint-Germain)

What was the shortlist for the Puskas Award?

The final three goals nominated for the Puskas Award were:

  • Erik Lamela (ARG): Arsenal FC v. Tottenham Hotspur FC [Premier League] (14 March 2021)
  • Patrik Schick (CZE): Czech Republic v. Scotland [UEFA EURO 2020] (14 June 2021)
  • Mehdi Taremi (IRN): Chelsea FC v. FC Porto [UEFA Champions League] (13 April 2021)

What is the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Coach?

Three coaches were nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Coach. These were:

  • Pep Guardiola (Spain / Manchester City FC)
  • Roberto Mancini (Italy / Italian national team)
  • Thomas Tuchel (Germany / Chelsea FC)

Previously, there was a seven-man shortlist. These are the coaches eliminated:

  • Antonio Conte (Italy / FC Internazionale Milano / Tottenham Hotspur FC)
  • Hansi Flick (Germany / FC Bayern München / German national team)
  • Lionel Sebastián Scaloni (Argentina / Argentinian national team)
  • Diego Simeone (Argentina / Atlético de Madrid)

What was the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper?

The final three nominees for The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper were:

  • Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy / AC Milan / Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Édouard Mendy (Senegal / Chelsea FC)
  • Manuel Neuer (Germany / FC Bayern München)

What was the shortlist for The Best FIFA Women's Player?

Running in conjunction with the men's awards are the same prizes for women.

The three final nominees for The Best FIFA Women's Player were:

  • Jennifer Hermoso (Spain / FC Barcelona)
  • Sam Kerr (Australia / Chelsea FC Women)
  • Alexia Putellas (Spain / FC Barcelona)

Previously, there was a nine-woman shortlist. These are the players eliminated:

  • Stina Blackstenius (Sweden / BK Häcken)
  • Aitana Bonmatí (Spain / FC Barcelona)
  • Lucy Bronze (England / Manchester City WFC)
  • Magdalena Eriksson (Sweden / Chelsea FC Women)
  • Caroline Graham Hansen (Norway / FC Barcelona)
  • Pernille Harder (Denmark / Chelsea FC Women)
  • What was the shortlist for The Best FIFA Women's Coach?

    The final three nominees for The Best FIFA Women's Coach were:

    • Lluís Cortés (Spain / FC Barcelona)
    • Emma Hayes (England / Chelsea FC Women)
    • Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands / Dutch national team / English national team)

    What was the shortlist for The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper?

    The final three nominees for The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper were:

    • Ann-Katrin Berger (Germany / Chelsea FC Women)
    • Christiane Endler (Chile / Paris Saint-Germain / Olympique Lyonnais)
    • Stephanie Lynn Marie Labbé (Canada / FC Rosengård / Paris Saint-Germain)

    What are The Best FIFA Football Awards?

    Following the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, FIFA decided to launch its own ceremony to celebrate the best player in the world every year. It slowly gained traction, incorporating a women’s award in 2001 as well as several other trophies that became up for grabs.

    Now, there are nine awards to be won, as well as a FIFPro 11. Those nine awards are: The Best FIFA Men’s Player, The Best FIFA Women’s Player, The Best FIFA Men’s Coach, The Best FIFA Women’s Coach, FIFA Fair Play Award, FIFA Puskas Award, FIFA Fan Award, The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper and the Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper.

    How are The Best FIFA Football Awards decided and who votes? 

    Unlike the aforementioned Ballon d’Or, The Best FIFA Football Awards involve fans in the voting process, giving the people a voice.

    The voting for the FIFA Puskas Award, for example, sees fans vote online for one of the 11 finalists drawn up by a panel of experts, with a final trio then decided.

    Fans will then be responsible for 50 per cent of the votes cast, with a panel of football experts providing the other 50 per cent to decide the eventual winner.

    The FIFA Fan Award is entirely decided by fans, with no input from journalists, coaches or players when it comes to determining the winner. Three moments are chosen and fans vote online to ultimately decide the winner.

    Fans also have the chance to cast their votes for The Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Player, The Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Coach and The Best Men’s and Women’s Goalkeeper awards.

    Fans can vote for their top three favourites per category, with first choice generating five points, second choice three points, and third choice one point.

    Fans make up 25% of the vote, with the other 75% coming from: national coaches of FIFA Member Associations, their team captains, and a select group of media from those countries.

    Voting for this edition of the awards will take place from 22 November through until 10 December.

    When and where does The Best FIFA Football Awards 2021 ceremony take place?

    The 2021 The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony will take place in the Swiss city of Zurich on 17 January, 2022.

    It will be a virtual ceremony due to the ongoing health measures attached to the Covid-19 crisis.

    It will begin at 19:00 CET and will be streamed live on and the FIFA YouTube channel.

    What is The Best FIFA Men’s Player award?

    The Best FIFA Men’s Player is the award handed out to the best player every calendar year. As mentioned earlier, it’s decided by a combination of: national coaches of FIFA Member Associations, their team captains, a select group of media from those countries, and fans.

    The current favourites for the 2021 award are: Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

    Previous Winners

    2008Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
    2009Lionel MessiArgentina
    2010Lionel MessiArgentina
    2011Lionel MessiArgentina
    2012Lionel MessiArgentina
    2013Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
    2014Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
    2015Lionel MessiArgentina
    2016Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
    2017Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
    2018Luka ModricCroatia
    2019Lionel MessiArgentina
    2020Robert LewandowskiPoland
    2021Robert LewandowskiPoland

    What is The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award?

    Similar to The Best FIFA Men’s Player, but solely for goalkeepers, The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award celebrates the best player in between the sticks each calendar year, to give more recognition to a position that seldom wins individual awards. The first award was handed out in 2017.

    Previous Winners

    2017Gianluigi BuffonItaly
    2018Thibaut CourtoisBelgium
    2019Alisson BeckerBrazil
    2020Manuel NeuerGermany
    2021Edouard MendySenegal

    What is The Best FIFA Men’s Coach award?

    This award celebrates the work of the best coaches in world football, and it ultimately decides which manager is considered to have been the best over the past 12 months.

    Previous Winners

    2016Claudio RanieriItaly
    2017Zinedine ZidaneFrance
    2018Didier DeschampsFrance
    2019Jurgen KloppGermany
    2020Jurgen KloppGermany
    2021Thomas TuchelGermany

    What is The Best FIFA Women’s Player award?

    Just as with The FIFA Best Men’s Player, there is an award for the best female player each calendar year as well. It started in 2001, 10 years after the men’s award was introduced, and brings more recognition and attention to women’s football.

    Previous Winners

    2016Carli LloydUnited States
    2017Lieke MartensNetherlands
    2019Megan RapinoeUnited States
    2020Lucy BronzeEngland
    2021Alexia PutellasSpain

    There are also female awards for The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper, The Best FIFA Women’s Coach and a FIFA FIFPro Women’s World XI.

    What is the FIFA FIFPro Men’s World 11?

    Since 2005, the world players’ union FIFPRO has asked professional footballers worldwide to select the best players in the game each calendar year, with over 25,000 players participating in the vote.

    The goalkeeper, as well as the three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards who received the most votes are selected for the World 11. The remaining spot in the World 11 is assigned to the outfield player with the next highest number of votes who is not selected already.

    The award celebrates the best 11 players in the world each year, and gives players who don’t have a realistic shot at winning the overall award, primarily defensive players, recognition for their work on the pitch.

    Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have the most appearances in the World 11, with 15 each. Sergio Ramos is next in terms of appearances, with 11.

    The 2021 FIFPRO World 11 was confirmed at The Best ceremony as:

    Previously, on December 14, FIFA confirmed the 23-man shortlist for the 2021 Men’s FIFA FIFPRO World 11 with the following players up for the award:

    Previous FIFPro Best XIs

    2016: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Barcelona/Juventus), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid); Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 

    2017: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus); Dani Alves (Juventus/Paris-Saint Germain), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus/AC Milan), Marcelo (Real Madrid); Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Neymar (PSG)

    2018: David de Gea (Manchester United); Dani Alves (PSG), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid); Luka Modric (Real Madrid), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Eden Hazard (Chelsea); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Juventus), Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

    2019: Alisson (Liverpool); Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Marcelo (real Madrid); Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona), Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

    2020: Alisson (Liverpool); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich); Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Thiago (Bayern Munich/Liverpool), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

    2021: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan/PSG); David Alaba (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Ruben Dias (Manchester City); Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester Ciy), Jorginho (Chelsea), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea); Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich); Lionel Messi (Barcelona/PSG); Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United); Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

    What is the FIFA Puskas Award?

    Created in 2009 in honour of the late Ferenc Puskas, captain and star of the Hungary national team during the 1950s, the FIFA Puskas Award is handed out to the player judged to have scored the best goal of the year.

    The criteria are: an aesthetically beautiful goal, awarded without distinction of championship, gender or nationality.

    What is the FIFA Fair Play Award?

    The FIFA Fair Play award recognises exemplary behaviour that promotes fair play, sportsmanship and compassion in football. It can be awarded to a player, a coach, a team, fans or even entire footballing communities. The winner in 2020 was Mattia Agnese, who administered critical first aid to an opponent who lost consciousness following an on-field collision.

    What is the FIFA Fan Award?

    The FIFA Fan award was created in 2016 and celebrates the best fan moment or event across the calendar year. 2020’s winner was Marivaldo Francisco da Silva.

    2016Mohd Faiz bin SubriMalaysia
    2017Olivier GiroudFrance
    2018Mohamed SalahEgypt
    2019Daniel ZsoriHungary
    2020Heung-Min SonKorea Republic

    Who will present the The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony?

    Broadcaster Reshmin Chowdhury and former Tottenham and England midfielder Jermaine Jenas presented the ceremony.

    Chowdhury and Ruud Gullit were the hosts in 2020.

    Are The Best FIFA Football Awards and the Ballon d’Or the same?

    No, they are not. The Ballon d’Or is a ceremony founded and run by France Football, whereas The Best FIFA Football Awards were founded and run by FIFA. They are two separate awards, although between 2010 and 2015, they merged together to form the FIFA Ballon d’Or.

    They separated for 2016 and have remained two different awards since then. Before the merge, The Best FIFA Football Awards was known as FIFA World Player of the Year. You can find out more about the Ballon d’Or here.