Geneva, Dec. 18: Robert Lewandowski won the biggest individual prize of his career Thursday, showing that a forward not named Messi or Ronaldo can be voted the world’s best soccer player.
The Poland captain was named the FIFA Best Men’s Player for 2020 after his 55-goal season lifted Bayern Munich to a sweep of international and domestic trophies.
Lewandowski topped a three-player shortlist that included Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Voting was by a global jury of national team captains and coaches, plus selected journalists and fans. Lewandowski received 52 voting points, with Ronaldo second on 38 Messi third with 35.
Though FIFA hosted the virtual ceremony in Zurich, its president Gianni Infantino went to Munich to present the trophy in person.
“It’s an incredible feeling” said Lewandowski, who at age 32 made the shortlist for the first time.
Lewandowski joined Luka Modric, the Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder who won in 2018, as the only players in the past 13 years to deny both Messi and Ronaldo the victory.
“Today I am among them,” Lewandowski said in comments translated from German. “It means I’ve always done the right things in my life.”
Lucy Bronze was voted the best women’s player to give England its first individual victory at the FIFA awards. A Champions League winner with Lyon, she has since joined Manchester City.
Bronze got 52 points from the women’s voting jury. Pernille Harder, who helped Wolfsburg to the Champions League final, finished second with 40 points and Bronze’s former Lyon teammate Wendi Renard scored 35 points.
Lewandowski is also the first men’s winner from a club outside Spain since Ronaldo won the 2008 award as a Manchester United player.
A Bayern player had not won since FIFA created a world player award in 1991.
The club twice saw its stars relegated to third place by Messi and Ronaldo: Franck Ribéry in Bayern’s Champions League-winning year of 2013, and Manuel Neuer one year later after Germany won the World Cup.
Jurgen Klopp, who coached Lewandowski at their former club Borussia Dortmund, denied Bayern a sweep of the FIFA men’s awards by being voted the best coach for a second straight year.
Klopp guided Liverpool to become champion of England for the first time in 30 years, and finished tied in votes with Hansi Flick, who took over at Bayern mid-season. Klopp won in the tiebreaker of most votes from national-team coaches. Marcelo Bielsa of English second-tier champion Leeds was third.
Sarina Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to the 2019 World Cup final, was voted the best coach in women’s soccer ahead of Lyon’s Jean-Luc Vasseur and Emma Hayes of Chelsea. Wiegma will take over the England team next year.
Son Heung-min’s end-to-end dribble to score for Tottenham against Burnley won the Puskas Award for best goal.
Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford was honored for his campaign to fight child poverty. FIFA made a donation of $100,000 toward his charitable work.-AP