5 goals that were robbed of the Puskas award

  • The prestigious Puskas Award is annually awarded to the player who scores the "most beautiful" goal during that year.
  • There have been instances in the past when certain goals, which truly deserved the award, did not claim the final prize.
Mehul Gupta
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 07 May 2020, 01:24 IST

Lionel Messi took on half of the Athletic Bilbao team to score a sensational solo goal in 2015
Lionel Messi took on half of the Athletic Bilbao team to score a sensational solo goal in 2015

From Cristiano Ronaldo’s jaw-dropping 40-yarder against Porto to James Rodriguez’s audacious volley in the 2014 World Cup, football has seen some startling goals over the years. However, it was only in 2009 that FIFA decided to annually honour the 'Best Goal' scored every year.

The prestigious prize, known as the Puskas award, is named after Ferenc Puskas. The legendary Hungarian forward of the 50s and 60s is considered one of the most prolific forwards in European footballing history. 

Whilst many of the Puskas Award winners since 2009 have no doubt been thoroughly deserving, there have been instances when other goals should have claimed the award. In this section, we take a look at five goals which were robbed of the Puskas award.

#1 Lionel Messi against Athletic Bilbao, 2015

The fact that Lionel Messi has not won the FIFA Puskas Award despite being nominated a record six times has left many pundits and fans scratching their heads. The Barcelona legend has scored some outrageous goals during his illustrious career, some of which almost epitomise the beautiful game.

Many would agree that Messi’s best-ever goal was his solo goal against Getafe in the 2007 Copa del Rey semi-final which has often drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona. Unfortunately, though, the Puskas Award only came into being two seasons later.

The Argentine has had tough competition each year he has made the nominations. However, it was 2015 when he should have definitely taken home the decorated prize. 

Messi spearheaded Barcelona to another Copa del Rey final in 2015 after already lifting the La Liga trophy. And he lit up proceedings at the quarter-mark when he collected the ball a few metres ahead of the halfway line on the right flank.

As he does so often, Messi ran rings around the Atletico Bilbao defence, before deceiving the goalkeeper with a magnificent near-post finish. A goal of that brilliance, especially in a cup final, that too against a quality side, should have bagged first place in the 2015 Puskas Award standings. But it didn't.


The good news, however, is that Lionel Messi, even at 33, is showing no signs of slowing down. He could still produce some of that Puskas magic in the coming years. 

#2 Gareth Bale against Liverpool, 2018

Gareth Bale has produced some unbelievable moments in Real Madrid colours during his seven-year stay at the club. Fans will quickly point out his incredible solo goal against rivals Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final, when he made a mockery out of a young Marc Bartra.

However, his best-ever goal in a white shirt came during the 2018 Champions League final, when he pulled out a rabbit from the hat with an overhead kick for the ages. That goal also spearheaded his team to a record 13th win in the competition.

Bale was substituted in by manager Zinedine Zidane with half an hour to spare and the score deadlocked at 1-1. Only two minutes later, the winger was found at the edge of the box doing the impossible, acrobatically finishing off Marcelo’s cross.

This was followed by Bale scoring another towards the end to round off one of the tournament's most remarkable substitute appearances ever. 

Bale’s bicycle effort has frequently been compared to that of Cristiano Ronaldo’s, which the former scored against Juventus earlier that season. In a surprising turn of events, however, the 2018 Puskas Award was eventually given to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah for his goal against Everton.

That strike, although of top quality, was nowhere near the standard of its competitors.

Ronaldo finished second but the former Spurs hitman should have bagged the prestigious trophy purely because of its magnitude. 

#3 Papiss Cisse against Chelsea 

Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse made for an incredible partnership up-front at St. James' Park, especially during the early 2010s. The former’s most iconic moment in England came in Chelsea colours when he broke Liverpool hearts during a title-defining game at Anfield. And the latter will always be remembered for his incredible goal against the Blues at Stamford Bridge.

Nicknamed the ‘banana shot’, Cisse’s physics-defying goal in the 2-0 win over Chelsea was lauded by many as the unofficial Goal of the Season. The former Senegalese international lashed a loose ball from 25-yards out with his outer foot, and it swerved all the way around a hapless Petr Cech.

The goal was probably one of the best the Stamford Bridge faithful had ever seen, and Didier Drogba’s reaction reinforced that. Although the effort received significant praise in the country, it was perplexingly not even nominated for the Puskas Award that year.

What were FIFA thinking?

#4 Oscarine Masuluke against Orlando Pirates, 2016

Bicycle kicks are a truly sensational spectacle for football fans all around the world, purely because of the incredible athleticism and perfection you need to execute them. And if you ask the fans what their favorite bicycle strike is, they would probably recall Wayne Rooney’s sensational effort in the Manchester Derby.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s party-piece against England from 30-yards out is also a strong contender.

Some would say that the bicycle kick is not the rarest sight in football nowadays. But what if we tell you that a match is in its 95th minute, with a team trailing, and its goalkeeper produces a bicycle kick from the edge of the box to equalize?

What sounds like fantasy stuff actually happened in the 2016 South African Premier Division, when Baroka FC shot-stopper Oscarine Masuluke did the unthinkable. Masuluke's effort was followed by a completely astounded stadium and some wild celebrations; it was a truly iconic footballing moment.

The goal unsurprisingly made the top three of the 2017 Puskas Award standings. However, Olivier Giroud’s hair-pulling scorpion kick for Arsenal came out as the eventual winner.

As much as we appreciate the Frenchman’s effort, it surely had an element of luck to it - which is why Masuluke deserved top spot. 

#5 Jack Wilshere against Norwich City, 2013

We are not the first ones to say this, but why are team goals not taken into consideration for the FIFA Puskas Award? In 2013, a young Jack Wilshere finished off one of the Premier League’s most breathtaking goals ever against Norwich City. But the goal, which is etched in the memory of every Arsenal fan, didn't even make the shortlist for the coveted Puskas Award.

Arsenal at the time were known for their free-flowing football, especially when pass-masters like Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere were operating in midfield. With Olivier Giroud up-front, the trio would often play off the Frenchman and use his top-notch close control and hold-up play to the fullest.

Wilshere’s remarkable goal came as a result of exactly that. He collected Cazorla’s pass a few metres outside the box, and then passed it back to the Spaniard who further played it to Giroud. The striker flicked a first-time pass back to the Englishman, who returned the favour. The Frenchman then played an even more intricate lob which Wilshere volleyed home. 

Ozil, who has always been the key catalyst of such goals during his Arsenal days, called it a ‘Playstation goal’ and a real ‘tiki-taka’ spectacle. It is a shame it never received international recognition.

Published 05 May 2020, 11:15 IST
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