A player being awarded his country’s Footballer of the Year award is a moment of immense pride for the player.
Sometimes, a top player comes out from a not so famous footballing country and in the process, sweeps the award consistently. There could also be the rare case of an all-time great emerging from a lesser known country and winning the award every time throughout his playing career.
So, let’s go ahead and take a look at 10 active footballers who are dominating their country’s Footballer of the Year award.
#10 Marek Hamsik, Slovakia – 5
A perennial entry in the underrated players list, Hamsik is currently the captain of Italian side Napoli and the vice-captain of the national team. A combination of energy, creativity and eye for goal made him an integral part of Napoli since he joined them in 2007. Players such as Edinson Cavani and Gonzalo Higuain came and went at Napoli, but Hamsik has been a mainstay and has raked in over 300 appearances for the club while notching up 95 appearances for Slovakia.
So, it is of little doubt that he is worthy of being awarded the Slovak Footballer of the Year award a record five times since 2009 including thrice in a row since 2013. He missed out on the award in 2011 and 2012 to then Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel. At 29 year of age and nearing a century of appearances for Slovakia, Hamsik will definitely be expected to win the coveted prize a few more times.
(Video Courtesy: TheHeskeyKid Youtube Channel)
#9 Robert Lewandowski, Poland – 5
The quickest foreign player to score 100 goals in the Bundesliga, Robert Lewandowski is undoubtedly one of the finest strikers of this generation both for club and country. Rising up the ranks in Poland, Lewandowski earned recognition first at Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp and then at Bayern Munich. A complete striker, with pace, height, ruthlessness and two good feet, Lewandowski has been the best Polish player for quite some time now.
He has 85 caps for the Polish national time and also captains the side. The stupendous career has led to the Pole being named the Polish footballer of the year a record five times since 2011. Lewandowski is unlikely to let go of the title anytime soon with no quality competition currently, except for Napoli’s 22-year old Arkadiusz Milik who definitely has the ability to dethrone his compatriot in the long run.
(Video Courtesy: Bundesliga Youtube Channel)
#8 Gylfi Sigurdsson, Iceland – 6
Iceland and Swansea’s midfield wizard, Sigurdsson has spent his entire senior career in England so far including a brief two-year spell at Tottenham Hotspur. The Icelander is known for his goalscoring ability both from open-play and from set-pieces. While the stint at Spurs did not go as intended, he has been the lynchpin for Swansea since he joined them.
Sigurdsson has amassed 48 caps for his country so far and also played a key role in the Nordic country reaching the quarter-final of Euro 2016, which was their first ever participation in a major tournament.
His performances for club and country have seen him named as the Icelandic Footballer of the Year six times, and winning it five times straight since 2012. This puts him just one short of arguably Iceland’s greatest player, Eidur Gudjohnsen, who won the award seven times. With time on his side, and Norse god Thor as his middle name, one can bet Sigurdsson to beat that record.
(Video Courtesy: Swansea City AFC Youtube Channel)
#7 David Alaba, Austria – 6
The youngest player on the list, David Alaba is one of the most gifted footballers to emerge from Austria. The 24-year old has played his entire senior career at Bayern Munich so far and is well-known for his versatility to play in various positions ranging from left-back to central midfield to the wings.
He is also the youngest player to play for the national team at 17 years of age in 2009 and has already made a half-century of appearances for the side. All these factors highlight the prodigy he is and it is of no wonder that he has swept away the Austrian Footballer of the Year award for a record six times consecutively from 2011. At this rate, he is sure to eclipse the world record for any country’s highest number of Player of the Year awards won down the line.
(Video Courtesy: BlansaroniTV Youtube Channel)
#6 Gareth Bale, Wales – 6
One of the best players of this generation and one of the very few British players to find success abroad, Gareth Bale has managed to make a name for himself at Real Madrid despite the presence of one of the all time-greats, Cristiano Ronaldo, at the club. The Welshman rose to fame at Tottenham where he started as a left-back before becoming a world-class winger and a set-piece specialist.
The left-footed Bale was the talisman for the qualification of Wales for Euro 2016 and the subsequent unexpected run into the semi-finals of the tournament. He is the best Welsh player since Ryan Giggs and the six Welsh Player of the Year awards including four in a row since 2013 are a testament to that.
At 27 years of age, Bale is bound to win more with both club and country in the coming years, giving him good odds to win the award a few more times.
(Video Courtesy: Teo CRi Youtube Channel)
#5 Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Armenia – 7
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s journey towards becoming one of the world’s best has seen him travel and find success in Armenia, Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk), Germany (Borussia Dortmund) and finally England (Manchester United).
At every one of these clubs, he took time to settle down in his new surroundings, before having a stellar season. His versatility to play anywhere behind the striker and the penchant for scoring goals made him a valuable asset to every team he has played for.
Nicknamed “Micki” by the fans at Dortmund, Mkhitaryan has over 60 caps for the Armenian national team and holds the record for winning the Armenian Footballer of the Year the highest number of times. He has won the award seven times since 2009 with the only miss coming in 2010. This dominance is not likely to end anytime soon, for Mkhitaryan is only 27-years-old and he definitely has a good number of seasons left in his tank.
(Video Courtesy: Bundesliga Youtube Channel)
#4 Petr Cech, Czech Republic – 8
The only goalkeeper on the list, Petr Cech has dominated the Czech Footballer of the Year award by winning it eight times since 2005. Cech came to prominence during his time at Chelsea where he won the bulk of his honours, including the EPL title, Champions League, Europa League and the cups.
Apart from that he has been awarded the Golden Glove (goalkeeper with the highest number of clean sheets in a season) a joint-record four times, three times with Chelsea and once with his current club Arsenal.
Cech is the most capped player for his country as well with 124 caps and has represented Czech Republic since Euro 2004. These accomplishments serve as the validation to Cech’s credentials as one of the finest goalkeepers of this generation. Although he retired from international duty this year, he will still be the favourite to win the Czech Footballer of the Year award next year as well due to his performances for Arsenal.
(Video Courtesy: RoMarsh Youtube Channel)
#3 Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal – 8
Ronaldo is arguably the greatest goalscorer in the history of the game with an unbelievable knack to score poacher goals, long-range thunderbolts and insane headers. He is truly one of a kind player and the proud winner of four Ballon d’Or awards including the most recent one.
The decorated attacker has won league and Champions League titles with Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Further, Ronaldo has led the Portuguese national team to Euro 2016 triumph which was their first ever win in a major tournament. He has scored over 500 goals at club level while making 136 appearances for the national side. This distinguished career has seen him named as the CNID Best Portuguese Athlete Abroad a stunning eight times since 2007. Although on the wrong side of 30, Ronaldo is a physical marvel and can be expected to win the award a few more times before he hangs up his boots.
(Video Courtesy: mr bundesteam Youtube Channel)
#2 Lionel Messi, Argentina – 10
Every once in a while, a player comes along who is touted as the best player of his generation. The player makes one forget about all the statistics and honours, instead he becomes a source of footballing spectacle never ever seen before and never will be seen again. Lionel Messi is one such player.
To go along with his magical ability of dribbling past a horde of defenders, assisting and scoring goals at will, he has won the top titles and honours a number of times with Barcelona while leading the national team to back-to-back Copa America finals and a World Cup final.
Coming from the land of the legendary Diego Maradona, Messi has proven to be his true heir and his glorious achievements have seen him bestowed with Olimpia de Plata (Argentine Footballer of the Year) a record ten times since 2005. Further, he has won the coveted Ballon d’Or a record five times as well. At 29 years of age, the juggernaut is refusing to slow down and will be tipped to win a lot more in the coming years.
(Video Courtesy: Messi MagicTM Youtube Channel)
#1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden – 11
The giant Swede is very likely to find himself behind Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on most categories but this is one category where he definitely tops them. Ibrahimovic is one of the most successful travellers in world football with titles at Ajax, the Milan clubs, Juventus, Barcelona and PSG.
He is well-known for the confidence he exudes in his speeches including referring to himself in third person and the unconventional goals he has scored throughout his career for club and country. In fact names such as propeller kick and scorpion kick have come up to describe the outrageous goals he scores.
One of the best strikers of his generation, the Swede has amassed over 100 caps for Sweden before retiring this year. At 35 years of age, he is on the final leg of his footballing career, but if his performances for Manchester United are any indication, then he is showing no signs of age catching up.
The fact that he won the Guldbollen or the Swedish Footballer of the Year a record eleven times including ten in row since 2007 show how bright his star still burns and it can be said without a doubt that he will win it every year till he retires.
(Video Courtesy: FEEL MY STYLE Youtube Channel)