At the Ballon d’Or awards gala on Monday night, we almost had something happen for the first time since 2006. A defender almost won football’s most prestigious individual award! Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk came within seven (7!) points of unseating Lionel Messi, briefly recognizing that the game is not just about attacking.
Alas, Messi’s 686 points, the lowest winning total since the award’s current form since 2016, was enough to give him a record sixth (6th!) win, much to the presumed chagrin of Cristiano Ronaldo, who only finished third. Here’s the legendary Didier Drogba, one of the hosts for the night, announcing the main man.
But away from the central focus of the night, we did have something happen that has never happened before. The ‘Yachine Trophy’ was awarded for the first time ever. Named after legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin, generally recognized as the greatest goalkeeper ever and still the only one of his position to ever win the Ballon d’Or, the award is analogous to FIFA’s “Best” award for goalkeepers, recognizes the best at the position in the game over the previous 12 months.
The unsurprising winner last night was Liverpool’s Alisson Becker, who was also FIFA’s choice back in September for their award. In fact, the top three for both FIFA’s award and the Yachine Trophy are exactly the same: Alisson, Marc-André ter Stegen, and Ederson.
There were ten (10) named finalists for the inaugural Yachine Trophy, and Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga was one of them! He finished 8th. Congrats to him!
Here’s the final running order for the 2019 Ballon d’Or Yachine Trophy.
- Alisson Becker (Liverpool / Brazil)
- Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona / Germany)
- Ederson (Manchester City / Brazil)
- Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid / Slovenia)
- Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur / France)
- Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich / Germany)
- André Onana (Ajax Amsterdam / Cameroon)
- Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea / Spain)
- Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus / Poland)
- Samir Handanović (Internazionale / Slovenia)
Other big winners on the night included Matthijs de Ligt who won the Kopa Trophy for best under-21 player ahead of Jadon Sancho and João Felix, and Megan Rapinoe, who won the second annual Ballon d’Or Féminin ahead of Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan.