FIFA Best Player Award: Full list of winners from 2016 to date

FIFA presents the Best FIFA Football Awards every year to acknowledge outstanding performance in international and club football from the previous year.

The Best FIFA Football Awards ushered in a new era of recognizing outstanding individuals in global football by involving fans like never before, with their votes contributing to the selection of the top players and coaches in men’s and women’s football.

The awards ceremony also introduced the FIFA Fan Award, which acknowledges exceptional displays of support.

The first awarding ceremony was held on 9 January 2017 in Zürich, Switzerland. The award is aimed at reviving the FIFA World Player Gala.


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Argentina and Paris St-Germain forward Lionel Messi has been named Men’s player of the year at the 2022 Best FIFA Awards.

The 35-year-old beat French forwards Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema to the prize.

In total, 9 categories are honored based on performances from the previous year, in addition to a special award for lifetime achievement and the announcement of the two FIFAPro best 11 teams.

The Best FIFA Football Awards Categories

● The Best FIFA Men’s Player

● The Best FIFA Women’s Player

● The Best FIFA Men’s Coach

● The Best FIFA Women’s Coach

● The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper

● The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper

● The FIFA Puskas Award

● The FIFA Fair Play Award

● The FIFA Fan Award

● FIFA FIFPro Men’s World 11

● FIFA FIFPro Women’s World 11

As it stands, the Best FIFA Football Awards has been held seven times with different players and coaches receiving the awards over the years.

Only Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, Alexia Putellas, Jurgen Klopp and Sarina Wiegman have won the award more than once.

Here is the Full list of  Best FIFA Awards winners from 2016 to date:

The Best FIFA Men’s Player Winners 

Year Player Country Team(s)
2016 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Real Madrid
2017 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Real Madrid
2018 Luka Modric Croatia Real Madrid
2019 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2020 Robert Lewandowski Poland Bayern Munich
2021 Robert Lewandowski Poland Bayern Munich
2022 Lionel Messi Argentina PSG

The Best FIFA Men’s Coach Winners 

Year Coach Nationality Team(s)
2016 Claudio Ranieri Italian Leicester City
2017 Zinedine Zidane French Real Madrid
2018 Didier Deschamps French France
2019 Jurgen Klopp German Liverpool
2020 Jurgen Klopp German Liverpool
2021 Thomas Tuchel German Chelsea
2022 Lionel Scaloni Argentine Argentina

The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper Winners 

Year Player Country Team(s)
2017 Gianluigi Buffon Italy Juventus
2018 Thibaut Courtois Belgium Chelsea, Real Madrid
2019 Alisson Brazil Liverpool
2020 Manuel Neuer Germany Bayern Munich
2021 Edouard Mendy Senegal Chelsea
2022 Emiliano Martinez Argentina Aston Villa

The Best FIFA Women’s Player Winners

Year Player Country Team(s)
2016 Carli Lloyd USA Houston Dash
2017 Lieke Martens Netherlands Rosengard, Barcelona
2018 Marta Brazil Orlando Pride
2019 Megan Rapinoe USA Reign FC
2020 Lucy Bronze England Manchester City, Lyon
2021 Alexia Putellas Spain Barcelona
2022 Alexia Putellas Spain Barcelona

The Best FIFA Women’s Coach Winners

Year Coach Nationality Team(s)
2016 Silvia Neid German Germany
2017 Sarina Wiegman Dutch Netherlands
2018 Reynald Pedros French Lyon
2019 Jill Ellis English USA
2020 Sarina Wiegman Dutch Netherlands
2021 Emma Hayes English Chelsea
2022 Sarina Wiegman Dutch England

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A Brief History Of The Best According To FIFA Documentation 

The FIFA World Player of the Year award was first given out in 1991 to Germany’s Lothar Matthaus, captain of the team that won the FIFA World Cup at Italy in 1990.

Since then, there have been another 29 awards galas, with the number of prizes increasing significantly.

In 2001 came the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Player award, which went to USA’s Mia Hamm. That year also saw the first-ever Presidential Award, designed to honour particular service to the game from personalities and institutions that often get overlooked by the media.

The first recipient of this accolade was Marvin Lee from Trinidad, with Hiroshi Kagawa the most recent person to be honoured, in 2014.

Fair play, fans and goalkeepers

The oldest accolade is the FIFA Fair Play Award, which already existed before the gala was ever held – a fact which once again underlines the importance that world football’s governing body gives to the sporting aspect of the game.

Back in 1987, Scottish club Dundee United’s fans were the first-ever winners, and since then FIFA has gone on to recognise fans, national teams, clubs, players and associations whose adherence to the ideals of fair play have set an example.

In 2009, the FIFA Puskás Award was created in honour of Ferenc Puskás, who was the captain and star of the Hungarian national team in the 1950s.

This award is given to the men’s or women’s player who has scored the best goal of the year.

The first winners of the FIFA Fan Award were the supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in 2016.

The following year, it went to those from Celtic, followed by Peru’s fans in 2018, Palmeiras supporter Silvia Grecco and, most recently, the ultra-dedicated Marivaldo Francisco da Silva, fan of Sport Recife.

The FIFA Fan Award will be handed out again this year and will honour an outstanding moment or a particularly significant gesture.

An award for that special breed of player who wears gloves and prowls between the sticks was long overdue, and in 2017 Gianluigi Buffon became the first winner of The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper Award in 2017.

He was followed by Thibaut Courtois in 2018, Alisson in 2019 and, most recently, Manuel Neuer in 2020. The success of this particular category led to the creation of The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper Award in 2019.

The inaugural recipient was Sari van Veenendaal, thanks in no small part to her stand-out performances at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, which helped the Netherlands make it to the final. The most recent winner was France and Lyon keeper Sarah Bouhaddi.

Names and dates which have made history

Although the gala has been held 29 times now, there are only 16 names on the FIFA World Player of the Year list due to repeat winners.

The most prolific have been Argentina’s Lionel Messi (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019) and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017).

Brazil, however, is the country with the most awards with eight, courtesy of Ronaldo (1996, 1997 and 2002), Ronaldinho (2004 and 2005), Romario (1994), Rivaldo (1999) and Kaka (2007).

They also have six women’s awards to their name in the short history of the category – all thanks to Marta (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2018).

Prior to her, another player took home the award three years in a row, namely Germany great Birgit Prinz. USA’s Mia Hamm won the first two awards in this category, with fellow American Carli Lloyd following in her footsteps in 2015 and 2016.

Luzy Bronze took home the trophy last year and is in the running to make it two in a row for 2021.

In addition to Ronaldo’s five awards, Portugal also celebrated Luis Figo’s win in 2001, while Italy have had two winners – Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 and Roberto Baggio back in 1993.

The other names on the honours’ board are the aforementioned Matthaus (Germany), Marco van Basten (Netherlands, 1992) George Weah (Liberia, 1995) and Luka Modric (Croatia, 2018) and, of course, Robert Lewandowski (Poland, 2020).

Weah is the only player to date to break the duopoly of traditional powerhouses South America and Europe (15 for Europe and 14 for South America) and take the prize back to Africa. The Liberian also won the FIFA Fair Play Award the following year.

In 2010, FIFA decided to go down a new path as far as its awards were concerned by merging the FIFA World Footballer of the Year with the Ballon d’Or from France Football into a combined award and ceremony, namely the FIFA Ballon d’Or.

The joint Gala was held every year up until 2015 and saw awards for the best men’s and women’s players and coaches.

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