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5 unexpected players to have made the Puskas Award shortlist

Aditya Mehra
ANALYST
Modified 20 Mar 2019, 14:54 IST
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The Puskas award is named after the iconic Real Madrid and Hungarian striker Ferenc PuskasSepp Blatter may be in the news for all the wrong reasons at the moment, but the institution of the Puskas Award is undoubtedly a good thing he ushered in during his time at the helm of FIFA. Named after the fabled Ferenc Puskas, a prolific goal-scorer of yesteryear who would have given Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi a run for their money had he plied his trade in our time, this award seeks to recognize the most beautiful goal of the year.The best part of this award is that it recognizes a beautiful goal "without distinction of championship, gender or nationality" and the authorities have stuck to this rule with a host of lower-league and youth footballers regularly finding a spot in the nominees’ list over the years.Emphatically, the moment when Stephanie Roche of Peamount United shared the podium with James Rodriguez and Robin van Persie at last year’s gala, will forever bear testament to ideals this award has hoped to follow. That is not to say the usual suspects like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have not won this award as they are exceptionally talented and have pulled off some of the most breathtaking goals over the last few years. However, there are many footballers you probably didn’Ât know had scored stunning goals and made the shortlist over the years. Here we will have a look at some unexpected but known faces belting in wonder goals and almost nicking the awards in their respective years.

#1 Michael Essien for Chelsea vs Barcelona

Michael Essien was snapped up by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea for a whopping 24.4 million pounds, a fee that marginally pipped the sum Chelsea paid for Didier Drogba the summer before. This made Michael Essien the most valuable African player at the time and all signs showed that he would go on and excel under Mourinho – a physical box-to-box midfielder who could be one of Mourinho’s trusted lieutenants on the field.

Though he did not go on to achieve the legendary status that Didier Drogba commands at Chelsea, he repaid the faith the club had on him with his wonder strike against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals, a tie that the London club narrowly lost on the away goals rule.

An attempted cross by John Terry ricocheted off a Barcelona player only to gleefully present itself for Essien, who obliged by thumping a thunderous volley into the goal and sending the Bridge into raptures.

This goal earned Essien, now winding down his career at Greek club Panathinaikos, a spot on the first ever shortlist of the Award which was eventually won by Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Published 05 Dec 2015, 17:12 IST
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