Warsaw, Poland – Despite two stellar years, Poland and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski was once again denied the chance to become the first Polish football player to win the Ballon d’Or, as the prestigious awards ceremony returned after being cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
The record-breaking Polish striker was favoured to win the award but finished second behind superstar Lionel Messi, who won his record seventh Ballon d’Or. Chelsea’s Jorginho completes the podium.
Robert Lewandowski nonetheless brought home the newly introduced Striker of the Year award.
“To start, I would like to congratulate Lionel Messi. I want to thank every single journalist who voted for me, and believed that my achievements were important in 2021. I won Striker Of The Year Award and no player can win an individual award without the strongest team and loyal fans behind him,” wrote the Pole on his social media accounts.
The Polish star-striker and captain of Poland’s national team finished as the top scorer in Europe’s top domestic leagues with an incredible 41 Bundesliga goals last season, which broke Gerd Muller’s 49-year record of goals in a single campaign. He also scored nine goals in 11 appearances for Poland, including three at Euro. In doing so, he became the first Polish player to score in three consecutive European Championships.
“I want to tell Robert [Lewandowski] that it is an honour for me to compete with him,” declared Messi upon receiving his trophy at the ceremony that took place at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on Monday.
“You deserve your Ballon d’Or. Last year everyone agreed that you were the winner. I think France Football should give you your Ballon d’Or and [you should] have it as you deserved it.”
This is indeed the second year running that Robert Lewandowski is denied the prestigious award.
The Polish player was already the heavy favourite to win the Ballon d’Or last year, after receiving FIFA’s 2020 Best Men’s Player Award ahead of Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and being named UEFA Player of the Year 2020 and Player of the Year at the Globe Soccer Awards. But the magazine France Football, who awards the Ballon d’Or, decided to cancel the event due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Widely considered one of the best players in the world today, Guinness record-holder Robert Lewandowski came to play in Germany over ten years ago, starting off at Borussia Dortmund before joining Bayern Munich in 2014. He’s won the Bundesliga title no less than eight times (twice with Dortmund, six times with Munich) since starting off in Germany’s top football league.
Lewandowski is also the all-time top scorer for Poland with 74 international goals.
Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have now combined to win 12 of the past 13 editions of the Ballon d’Or, the lone exception in 2018 when Luka Modric helped Real Madrid to another Champions League triumph and inspired Croatia to the World Cup final.
Only three players from Central Europe have won the Ballon d’Or so far. Czechoslovakia’s Josef Masopust won it in 1962 after helping his national side reach the 1962 World Cup final. Five years later, Ferencváros legend Flórián Albert became the first Hungarian player to win the Ballon d’Or in 1967.
More recently, Czech Republic’s Pavel Nedvěd won the award in 2003 after leading his club Juventus to the Champions League final.