• Featured

The Award That Lionel Messi Still Hasn’t Won

Lionel Messi at Argentina
"FIFA World Cup 2022 - Final - Argentina 3:3 (4:2 p) France - Lusail Stadium, Lusail - December 18, 2022" by footpicshd is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

You might not have heard of the Golden Foot award, but it’s been won by some of the best footballers in the world, with one glaring exception.

The award celebrates older footballers and their achievements later in their career. Only players over the age of 28 can win the award and they can only win it once too. The winner of the Golden Foot is decided by a panel of international journalists who vote for a winner from a list of 10 nominees. The first winner of the award came in 2003 when a 36-year-old Roberto Baggio was rewarded for a vintage late season with Brescia in Serie A. However, one man who has not yet won the award is Leo Messi. The Argentine has been arguably the world’s best player this century and won almost everything there is to win in the game, but the Golden Foot has so far eluded him. His fierce rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, has however won the award. He was the winner in 2020 when he was still at Juventus.

The recipient of the award also gets a pretty unique prize. Each winner is granted a permanent mold of their footprints on the Champions Promenade in Monaco as a special tribute, not dissimilar to the way the Hollywood Walk of Fame celebrates those in the movie industry. Another thing that makes it unique to other football awards is the fact that a player can only win the award once, ensuring that a wide range of icons have claimed the honor. The most recent winner of the award was Robert Lewandowski in 2022, with Mohamed Salah being awarded in 2021, one year after Ronaldo finally got the award. 20 players in total have won the award, with Juventus the most represented club on the list with four historic winners: Pavel Nedved in 2004, Alessandro Del Piero in 2007, Gianluigi Buffon in 2016, and Ronaldo for his win in 2020. Italy is the most successful country again with four winners, with Francesco Totti in 2010 joining Baggio, Del Piero, and Buffon on the Promenade. Interestingly, no English player has ever won the award, and only twice was it given to a player playing in the Premier League at the time: Salah in 2021 as previously mentioned, and Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs, who was given the award in 2011.

Still, the fact that Messi has never won remains surprising. To ensure the winner of the Golden Foot is decided as fairly as possible, the result is decided based on a vote between a large group of international journalists who choose from 10 nominees. However, how those players are initially picked has not been revealed. Still, there is time for Messi to win the award, especially if he can raise the profile of the game in America while at Inter Miami. Once he gets that honor, he can really then say he’s completed football.