International Sports Desk, Dec 27 (efe-epa).- Portuguese soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo, Spanish coach Pep Guardiola and La Liga team Real Madrid were selected as the 21st century’s best player, coach and club at the Globe Soccer Awards gala held in Dubai on Sunday.
Also honored at the gala were former goaltender Iker Casillas, last with Portugal’s Porto before ending his career earlier this year after a heart attack, and Barcelona center-back Gerard Pique, both of whom received special recognition for their successful careers on the pitch.
Juventus forward Ronaldo beat out Argentina’s Leo Messi (Barcelona), Brazil’s Ronaldinho (currently an ambassador for Barcelona) and Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) for best player and was present at the luxury Hotel Armani to receive the award, remarking emotionally: “It’s delightful to receive this award. I thank everyone who voted for me, my family, my mom and my sisters.”
“Being nominated along with great soccer players is an honor for me. This motivates me even more. It’s great when you look and see the kids want to be like you. They cut their hair like me. They want skills like me. I want to see them around the world making noise when I score a goal,” he said, adding “It’s not easy to be top of the game for so many years. I’m really proud, but without a team, great coaches and clubs it’s not possible.”
The awardees and nominees expressed a single shared wish: getting fans back into the stadiums around the world once the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control.
“It’s boring to play without an audience,” said Cristiano. “I don’t like playing in empty stadiums. Without fans, soccer is nothing.”
That was the message with which FIFA president Gianni Infantino inaugurated the award ceremony, highlighting two soccer icons who recently passed away – Argentina’s Diego Armando Maradona and Italy’s Paolo Rossi.
“Soccer is the most important thing among the less important things. We remember what it’s suffered due to the pandemic and the important thing, which is soccer for the people,” Infantino said.
The player of the year award went to Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski, who beat out Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi.
“We’ve only lost one match in 2020 and I’ve scored many goals. I’m not going to sit at Cristiano and Messi’s table but rather I invite them to sit at my table,” he joked.
In the coaching category, the big winner was Pep Guardiola, who was selected as the young century’s best team manager. The Manchester City coach was chosen over former Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson, Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane and Tottenham Hotspur’s Jose Mourinho.
Meanwhile, the best coach of the year award went to Hans Dieter Flick, with Bayern Munich, after his great season crowned with the Champions League trophy. He garnered more votes than Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Atalanta’s Mario Gasperini.
Real Madrid was selected as best club of the century ahead of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Al Ahly. Two special moments at the gala came when Casillas and Pique were recognized, and Bayern also walked away with the best club of the year award, while Portugal’s Jorge Mendes won the best agent of the century prize.
Starting in 2010, the Globe Soccer Awards honors excellence in the sport with an annual gala dinner and awards ceremony.