‘A fine night for Chelsea’ – 5 people who shone at the FIFA Best Awards 2022

Winning the UEFA Champions League is the pinnacle for any European football club, and Chelsea’s 2021 success was honoured in fitting fashion at this year’s FIFA Best Awards.

The London club won three top awards, with Emma Hayes and Thomas Tuchel winning their respective Best Coach prizes, and Edouard Mendy picking up the Best Male Goalkeeper gong.

Polish forward Robert Lewandowski and Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas were the other key winners at the ceremony which entered its sixth year.

Robert Lewandowski – Best Male Player

When it comes to great strikers, Robert Lewandowski is near the top of most people’s list.

The Polish forward is the highest foreign Bundesliga goal scorer of all time, with his 300 goals second only to German legend Gerd Muller.

He kept up his incredible performances last season with 41 goals, an all-time league record, and started off this season in even better form to land the FIFA Best Male Player trophy.

It’s an incredible feat when you consider the players he’s beaten to the award: Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and Mo Salah to name three impressive examples.

The truth is, Lewandowski’s scoring record beats all of them over the past year, whether in Europe or domestically, as his team Bayern looks for yet another trophy haul this season.

Thomas Tuchel – Best Male Coach

When Roman Abramovich walked through the doors of Stamford Bridge 20 years ago, many pundits predicted a golden era for Chelsea.

The Russian billionaire promised the world’s top talent annual salaries that would dwarf most lottery jackpots, yet despite winning several trophies, Abramovich has recently craved stability within the club.

Thomas Tuchel has brought that since taking over the reins from Frank Lampard a year ago.

His side immediately settled into a rhythm; embarking on a winning run that culminated in an unexpected Champions League triumph.

This season has seen Chelsea firmly rooted in the top three, as well as the Super Cup to add to their trophy collection.

While the Premier League appears to be out of Tuchel’s grasp, he’s still in the running to win a second consecutive Champions League, something that no Chelsea boss has ever done.

Emma Hayes – Best Female Coach

Perhaps FIFA’s award isn’t quite enough to recognise Emma Hayes’ extraordinary achievements over the last four years.

After completely rebuilding her Chelsea side in 2018, she went on to win back-to-back WSL titles in 2020 and 2021, breaking several records along the way.

She became the first female manager to reach the Champions League final in 12 years and was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the UK’s New Year Honours for her services to football.

So, while FIFA’s award is one of the sport’s top prizes, it pales into comparison to being formally recognized by British Royalty. What can Emma Hayes do next in 2022?

Alexia Putellas – Best Female Player

2021 was just one long line of trophies and awards for Alexei Putellas.

The Barcelona Femení captain added the Champions League and her seventh Copa de la Reina to her collection last year, while also receiving several personal awards for her dynamic performances.

She beat formidable competition to land the FIFA award, including the likes of Chelsea’s Sam Kerr and her own teammate Jennifer Hermoso.

Still only 27, Putellas could have another decade left at the top level – a worrying thought for her future opponents.

Edouard Mendy – Best Goalkeeper

2021 was a great year for goalkeepers. Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma lit up the Euros and Manuel Neuer had yet another solid season.

But the one name that has surpassed most people’s expectations was Edouard Mendy.

The Chelsea stopper already had a big reputation when he signed for the Blues from Rennes in 2020, but his form since then has been on another level.

A string of clean sheets, five in seven knockout games, helped Chelsea to lift the Champions League in May, ensuring a tight start to the following Premier League season by [AB1] [MG2] Mendy’s side in the title race before Christmas.

Mendy’s counterpart, Chile’s Christiane Endler, won the female award after a stunning season with PSG, to make it a sterling year for goalkeepers.

Special mentions

The FIFA ceremony wasn’t just about individual prizes.

There was a special Fair Play award for the Denmark men’s team and staff who helped to save their teammate Christian Eriksen’s life following his near-death experience in the first game.

The star’s collapse blighted the tournament, but his recovery, and his team’s run to the semi-finals, made it a tale with a happy ending.

Argentinian forward Erik Lamela won the Puskas award for an outstanding goal following his outrageous ‘Rabona’ finish in the North London derby, while last but not least was the prize for Cristiano Ronaldo, who became the highest-ever men’s international goal scorer with 115 goals.

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