Ferenc Puskas was not only a great goalscorer – as a professional record of 512 strikes in 528 games attests – he was also the scorer of great goals which is why his name is pinned to the award rewarding the most ‘beautiful’ goal scored in a calendar year.
According to the criterion set out by FIFA a Puskas Award winning strike must be; a beautiful goal, be scored in a match of importance, not be the result of luck and scored in a manner that supports fair play. There are quite a few hoops to jump through it seems…
The Puskas award was integrated into the Ballon d’Or ceremony in 2009 and since then football fans have been able to vote for their favourite goal of the year from a selection of ten, ranging from goals scored at the very pinnacle of the game to those in more obscure leagues or competitions.
Here are all eight previous winners of the Puskas award and what happened to their careers after they scored their defining goals.
2009 – Cristiano Ronaldo
The game: Manchester United 1-0 FC Porto
Date: April 15th 2009
The Champions League holders Manchester United approached their quarter-final second leg match against Porto in real danger of being eliminated having drawn 2-2 in the first leg at Old Trafford.
A draw would’ve been enough to see Porto through to the last four, however, Cristiano Ronaldo – who was jeered throughout due to his Sporting Lisbon connections – had other ideas, smashing the ball past a helpless Helton from around 40-yards out.
Ronaldo repeated the trick in the semi-final victory over Arsenal, this time from a free-kick, but was powerless to prevent Barcelona beating his team in the final. Shortly after that painful defeat, the Portuguese superstar completed a then world-record £80m move to Real Madrid.
2010 – Hamit Altintop
Turkey 3-0 Kazakhstan
Date: September 3rd 2010
On paper, Turkey’s visit to Kazakhstan in the opening round of Euro 2012 qualifying fixtures didn’t look the most enticing but a certain event that occurred at the Astana Arena that evening was replayed across Europe soon after the final whistle was sounded.
Turkey had raced into a 1-0 lead thanks to Arda Turan’s strike after 24 minutes and just two minutes later they doubled their advantage. A corner kick on the left was swung away from goal to the far edge of the box where Hamit Altintop was lurking and ready to hammer the ball into the top corner on the volley.
At the time, Altintop was struggling to earn much game time at Bayern Munich but when his contract expired at the end of the season he earned a move to another European footballing powerhouse, Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho must have taken notice of that wonder-goal…
2011 – Neymar
The game: Santos 4-5 Flamengo
Date: 27th July 2011
A game that will love long in the memory for those lucky enough to witness it and in many ways the passing of the baton from one great Brazilian forward to another.
Ronaldinho of Flamengo scored a hat-trick in the game but remarkably, his contribution wasn’t the defining moment with the limelight instead cast over the brilliant Neymar and in particular, his incredible solo run and dinked finish.
Still only 19 at the time, Neymar was already a regular in the Brazil side and coveted by Europe’s top clubs with his memorable goal further enhancing his burgeoning reputation. Despite the interest, he opted to stay at Santos for two more years prior to signing for Barcelona.
2012 – Miroslav Stoch
The game: Fenerbahce 6-1 Gençlerbirliği
Date: 3rd March 2012
During his teenage years, Miroslav Stoch had been one of the most highly-sought after youngsters in European football but after failing to make the grade at Chelsea, he was snapped up by Fenerbahce.
The Slovakian’s reputation had dipped following his departure from Stamford Bridge but his rasping Altintop-esque volley from a corner during a league match against Gençlerbirliği showed why the Blues had signed him in the first place.
Five years on from that goal and Stoch is still playing for Fenerbahce, although prior to the current campaign he had spent season-long loan spells at PAOK, Al-Ain and Bursaspor.
2013 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The game: Sweden 4-2 England
Date: 14th November 2012
As influential an individual performance as you are ever likely to see on a football pitch. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had already secured a hat-trick, courtesy of a predatory toe-poked finish, an emphatic close-range volley and a low skidding free-kick from 35-yards out. Best was still to come, however.
With the game nearing it’s conclusion Ibrahimovic decided he wanted to add another goal to his tally, performing a frankly ridiculous overhead kick from well outside the area after Joe Hart’s wayward header had looped up invitingly in front of him. Nevertheless, the audacity to even try the shot let alone pull it off offered a clear demonstration of Ibrahimovic’s unique talents.
At the time Ibrahimovic was just a couple of months into his contract at PSG and by the time he left in 2016 he had become the club’s all-time record goalscorer. After starring in the Eredivisie, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1, Ibrahimovic is now scoring goals in the Premier League for Manchester United.
2014 – James Rodriguez
The game: Colombia 2-0 Uruguay
Date: 28th June 2014
With Radamel Falcao sidelined through injury, Colombia’s hopes for World Cup 2014 were pinned on the young shoulders of James Rodriguez but nobody could’ve truly predicted how big an impact he would go on to make.
Rodriguez landed the golden boot in Brazil after netting five goals in as many games for the Colombians and undoubtedly the pick of the bunch was the volley he crashed in on off Uruguay’s crossbar in the last 16.
While he missed out to Lionel Messi for the best player of the tournament award, Rodriguez was rewarded for his outstanding performances with a lucrative move to Real Madrid for a fee in the region of £63m.
2015 – Wendell Lira
The game: Goianésia 2-1 Atlético Goianiense
Date: 12th March 2015
From 2009-2014, high-profile players hogged the Puskas award but that all changed in 2015 when a little known Brazilian forward by the name Wendell Lira pipped the great Lionel Messi to the trophy.
Playing for Goianésia in the Goiás State Championship, Lira was on hand to acrobatically put the finishing touches to an intricate free-flowing move.
But while Lira has only just turned 28, his award-winning strike proved to be one of his last in professional football as he announced his retirement from the game in July due to a combination of persistent injury problems and to become a YouTuber.
To date, Lira’s YouTube channel which sees him compete against other gamers on FIFA 17, has over 275,000 subscribers.
2016 – Mohd Faiz Subri
The game: Penang 4-1 Pahang
Date: 16th February 2016
The latest recipient of the award, Malaysian international Mohd Faiz Subri hit the headlines early last year after his free-kick improbably swerved from one side of the goal to the other, leaving the opposition goalkeeper completely bamboozled.
That goal brought Subri to the wider attention of the footballing fraternity but he has so far remained loyal to his club Penang FA who he has represented since 2015.