While the debate to settle who is the best ever football player in the world is a never-ending one, fans of the virtual contenders for the GOAT in the game often bring statistics to the table. This includes the number of individual awards that their favourite player has won.
While one knows that numbers aren't everything in the game and the greatest footballers produce moments of beauty that transcend all tangible achievements, prestigious individual awards of this team game continue to be fiercely contested and bring glory and bragging rights to their winners.
5 most prestigious awards in football
There are even awards that aim to measure aesthetics in football (more on that later). Nevertheless, adding an individual award to one's CV can change one's career, something that has assumed greater significance in the 21st century. In this article, we are going to take a look at the five most prestigious individual awards in football.
#5 The FIFA Puskas Award
We include the FIFA Puskas award because of its democratic nature and its unique worship of beauty.
Instituted in 2009 by FIFA, the award honours the most beautiful (yes, subjective) goal of the year. It can technically go to a male or a female player and can also head to a relative unknown, though Lionel Messi has expectedly got the most nominations during the award's short history - seven times to be precise.
Named in the honour of the great Hungarian forward Ferenc Puskas, the Puskas award has not been without controversy due to its subjective nature, most (in) famously when Mohamed Salah won it with a curler in 2018.
The Award is bestowed upon the player whose goal was chosen by the panel of FIFA Legends from the three-goal shortlist that received the highest number of votes from fans registered on FIFA.com during the voting process (from fifa.com)
Nevertheless, we still believe that it is an important celebration of beauty in football that needs to be preserved.
#4 The European Golden Shoe
Originally given by the L'Équipe magazine, the European Golden Shoe award is given to the top-scorer across all European football leagues (top division.) From 1968 to 1991, no distinction was made between the leagues in Europe before a controversy regarding a Cypriot scorer emerged.
Following the same, L'Equipe suspended the Golden Shoe award for five years. Since the 96-97 season, European Sports Media took over the awarding of the prize using a co-efficient that gives more weightage to the top leagues.
Lionel Messi has won the 'revamped' award six times and is followed by his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo at four. In the last 25 years, only two players outside the top-five European football leagues - Henrik Larsson and Mario Jardel - have won it.