Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski has won the inaugural Striker of the Year award at the 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony, where he finished as runner-up to Lionel Messi in the main vote for World Player of the Year.
The 33-year-old received the honour in person at the ceremony in Paris on Monday evening, the prize coming as a fitting reward for a man who, among other achievements, set a new single-season Bundesliga goal record of 41 in 2020/21.
"Congratulations Leo Messi and Alexia Putellas, winners of the Ballon d'Or 2021," Lewandowski tweeted afterwards. "Congratulations also to all nominated players. I won the Striker of the Year Award and no player can win an individual award without a strong team and loyal fans behind them. Thank you for your support."
Messi himself also paid tribute to Lewandowski when he received the trophy: "It's an honour to be here with you today. You broke records and you would have deserved to win the Ballon d'Or. You had an unbelievable year."
There was recognition for a host of Bundesliga youngsters too, with Jude Bellingham coming second in the Kepa Trophy for the best U21 player, while Jamal Musiala was third, Florian Wirtz seventh and Gio Reyna ninth.
As it happened!
Robert Lewandowski has finished second in the Ballon d'Or vote, with Lionel Messi winning the award for a record seventh time.
+++INTO THE TOP 5+++
It's getting tense now! Chelsea midfielder N'golo Kante is fifth, Real Madrid's Karim Benzema is fourth and Jorginho third...
+++DONNARUMMA WINS YASHIN TROPHY AS BEST GOALKEEPER+++
Bayern captain Manuel Neuer came fifth overall in the goalkeeping category, with the PSG custodian taking the top prize in part for his role in helping Italy win EURO 2020 over the summer.
Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City) has landed in 8th, Mo Salah (Liverpool) in 7th and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) 6th.
+++INTO THE TOP 10+++
PSG duo Gianluigi Donnarumma and Kylian Mbappe have been announced in 10th and 9th place respectively in the Ballon d'Or voting.
+++LEWANDOWSKI NAMED STRIKER OF THE YEAR+++
The Polish hitman is the first recipient of the inaugural Striker of the Year award, in recognition of his 64 competitive goals so far in 2021.
Four Bundesliga players feature in the top 10 for the Kepa Trophy, given to the best player under the age of 21. Gio Reyna (Dortmund) and Florian Wirtz (Leverkusen) came in ninth and seventh respectively. Bayern's Jamal Musiala was third, with Dortmund's Jude Bellingham runner-up behind Pedri of Barcelona and Spain.
Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland has finished 11th in the final Ballon d'Or poll, ahead of the likes of Neymar and Romelu Lukaku. The 21-year-old just brought up his 50th goal in as many Bundesliga appearances - expect to see him on the podium in the not too distant future
+++DO THEY KNOW SOMETHING WE DON'T?+++
Bayern's top brass are all in attendance in the French capital. The fact head coach Julian Nagelsmann, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and CEO Oliver Kahn have made the trip could bode well for Lewy...
+++POLAND'S MAIN MAN+++
Lewandowski isn't just Bayern's talisman, he's Poland's, too. The 33-year-old has struck 11 times across his last 12 internationals, scoring three in the UEFA Euro 2020 groups and eight in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Lewandowski was recently awarded Tuttosport's Golden Player for the second year in a row, as the best over-21 player in Europe – ahead of Chelsea’s Jorginho and Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi. As well as his record-breaking efforts last season, the Bayern No.9 has struck 25 times in 20 competitive matches so far in 2021/22. Not bad for a player rejected by Legia Warsaw as a teenager!
Watch: The evolution of Robert Lewandowski
Lewandowski was undoubtedly denied the honour by last year’s cancellation, but 12 months later he’s still fully deserving of the accolade. “He’s been so incredibly consistent over the last three years like nobody else,” said Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann of his main man in attack. Further praise has unsurprisingly come from further up the club chain, with CEO Oliver Kahn stating that "nobody deserves it more than him" and that Lewandowski has “been setting the benchmark for strikers around the world for years”. It’s a fair assessment given that the man from Warsaw has scored the most club goals in all competitions of any player in one of Europe’s top five leagues in each of the last three calendar years.
The reigning Best FIFA Men’s Player, Lewandowski, is among the frontrunners for France Football’s award as the best player in the world. The Bayern man is the reigning Best FIFA Men’s Player and recently picked up the European Golden Shoe as Europe’s top scorer in the 2020/21 season after he scored 41 goals to break Gerd Müller’s 49-year record for most goals in a Bundesliga campaign.
+++FIFA'S BEST IN 2020+++
Lewandowski was the top scorer in the 2019/20 Bundesliga (34 goals), the UEFA Champions League (15) and DFB Cup (six). He followed that up with winner’s medals in the DFL Supercup, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup for an unprecedented 2020. His haul of 48 goals last season came in only 40 competitive appearances as he positions himself to become the first Polish player to be named the best in the world.
Watch: Robert Lewandowski's 41-goal season
+++BUNDESLIGA BALLON D'OR WINNERS+++
Lewandowski would be the fourth Bayern player to pick up the Ballon d’Or after the late Müller, Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Other Bundesliga players to have won it are Allan Simonsen (Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Kevin Keegan (Hamburg).