FIFA Puskas Award 2019: Messi, Zlatan or Cliftonville’s Billie Simpson?

Football in Bottom of NetIt’s a shortlist that brings together some of the best footballers on the planet with those who delivered a career-defining moment of magic.

The World Goal of the Year gong, also known as the Puskas Award, was devised by FIFA to celebrate the best net-busters scored in each year.

The 2019 shortlist has been announced, and the rather eclectic list of talents features a Ballon d’Or winner, the incomparable Zlatan and range of players from men’s and women’s football from around the world.

The great thing is that you can have your say by voting on the official FIFA link, with the public vote cutting the shortlist from ten to three.

Then a panel of the sport’s legends will discuss and decide who wins the Puskas Award 2019.

From physics-defying volleys to jinking ball-on-a-string runs, take a look at the nominees below and be sure to have your say.

Ajara Nchout (Cameroon v New Zealand)

Cameroon briefly shone at the Women’s World Cup in the summer, and the highlight of their run was this scorcher from Ajara Nchout. She has a New Zealand defender on toast, beating her twice and sending her for the proverbial hotdog, before curling home a sublime finish.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona v Real Betis)

With Messi on the list, you are probably picturing one of those trademark dribbling runs before dinking the ball over a prone keeper. Well, this is a different kind of goal from the Argentine legend, running onto a pass from Ivan Rakitic before chipping the goalkeeper without any back lift. The ball takes a rather satisfying kiss off the underside of the crossbar. The beautiful game incarnate.

Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria v Napoli)

When Sampdoria’s Bartosz Bereszynski curls a hopeful ball into the Napoli penalty area, there doesn’t appear to be a lot going for it. Particularly as Fabio Quagliarella, the recipient, has his back to goal about ten yards out. But when do the Italians let that stop them? The veteran simply unleashes a backheeled volley that flies into the corner. Bellissimo.

Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals v Sky Blue FC)

When Amy Rodriguez picks the ball up in midfield and powers forward in this NWSL game, you can see her desperately looking around for attacking support. But she can’t find any, so instead unleashes a left-footed thunderbolt that leaves the Sky Blue FC keeper just waving at the ball as it flashes into the net.

Matheus Cunha (RB Leipzig v Bayer Leverkusen)

The piece of skill that Matheus Cunha uses to befuddle the Leverkusen defender is something you’d see forged in any classic game of street football anywhere in the world. But the lobbed finish is textbook Brazilian swagger, and this is the kind of goal that could get any fan of the beautiful game on their feet.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy v Toronto FC)

No Goal of the Year competition would be complete without an entry from Zlatan, and this strike for the LA Galaxy is right up there with the very best from his near two-decade long career. A hopeful punt forward is turned into a through ball for the ages by Ibrahimovic, who somehow contorts himself to fire a backheeled volley in off the post.

Daniel Zsori (Debrecen FC v Ferencvaros)

Now this is a proper goal, with Zsori pulling off the kind of overhead bicycle kick that many of us practiced religiously in the back garden before returning to the house with nothing more than a bruised backside to show for our efforts. When ballet and football combine, you get this unbelievable strike from Hungary.

Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace v Manchester City)

Sometimes you can tell how good a goal is just by listening to the crowd’s reaction. Here, Townsend unleashes a volley from the gods, and there’s a sort of stunned silence at the Etihad Stadium before the cheer begins – some of that exultation presumably coming from the Manchester City fans, who recognise the greatness they have just witnessed.

Billie Simpson (Cliftonville Ladies v Sion Swifts)

Yes, it may look like the game is unfolding at your local leisure centre, but the technique that Billie Simpson shows in this goal – casually volleying home from inside her own half – is worthy of its place in any pantheon of sporting greatness. Take a bow.