The Golden Foot Award isn’t the most prestigious of individual footballing accolades but, crucially, the 2020 edition represents something Cristiano Ronaldo has won and Lionel Messi hasn’t. So what is it? Well, it was created back in 2003 and sees the lucky winner leave an imprint of his feet on The Champions Promenade on the seafront in Monaco.
Indeed, it can only be won once and is awarded to players over 28 for their personality and achievements after journalists first nominate the candidates before an online poll. In the past, the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, and Luka Modric have all scooped the prize.
Stressing that we, as football fans, must enjoy having the privilege to watch both Ronaldo and Messi on a weekly basis has become the standard response from most reasonable people when debate rises in terms of ranking two of the all-time greats.
While both men started their journeys to the pantheon of footballing icons before the advent of Twitter, the social media platform has undoubtedly heightened the tension between Ronaldo and Messi fans, as has this most recent development.
How far is Messi off winning the Golden Foot and why has he never done so before?
Though there is unlikely to ever be a definitive answer as to who is better, such is the subjective nature of football, the fact that Ronaldo has won another award deep into the autumn of his career is worth talking about. Messi, famously, has not won the Champions League – largely considered the yardstick from which to measure elite footballing success – since he was 27.
Granted, it’s not as if his trophy cabinet has been collecting dust since then given the Argentine has lead Barcelona to three La Liga titles but modern football fans do appear to disregard league achievements at big clubs, as strange as that sounds. Infamous collapses against Liverpool and Roma have seen his star twindle somewhat, even if it shines brighter than pretty much anyone who has ever laced up a pair of boots.
Still, with his club in crisis and power brokers at the Camp Nou seemingly at war with him, it’s difficult to imagine this trinket finding pride of place on the 33-year-old’s mantlepiece any time in the immediate future.
Barcelona are a club in decline and though Messi remains an elite player, he has scored only six times this season when it comes to league action (weirdly, that’s low for him even if we’re only 13 games in) and is yet to record an assist.
Why did Ronaldo win it?
Ronaldo, meanwhile, has provided big moments in the continent’s elite competition, as well as winning two new league titles to his armoury, plus now he can also boast about the Golden Foot Award.
Again, Juventus’ winning of Serie A may not be viewed as impressive a feat as it once was considering their relentless Scudetto victories in recent years, but the recency bias in the Champions League will have many supporters championing him as the greatest of all time in that celebrated format.
Not without good reason, either. The Juventus forward has won ‘Od Big Ears’ three times since his great rival was last crowned champion of Europe and has extended his lead at the top of all-time goalscoring charts to 132, fourteen strikes above Messi’s tally.
In the last 12 months, Ronaldo has broken even more records. He scored his 700th career goal in October 2019, found the back of the net for eleven Serie A games in a row, equalling the Italian record, and became only the fourth player in the competition’s history to amass at least 33 goals in a calendar year.
On the international stage, he’s surpassed 100 goals. The man just never stops.
Who could win the Golden Foot Award in 2021?
Sadly for Ibrahimovic, his Herculean return to AC Milan won’t see him recognised on this front again, by way of the fact he won it in 2012.
Looking ahead to 2021 (as most of the world is at the moment), the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Jamie Vardy look like they’re due awards after hugely impressive 2020s, while it would barely be a surprise to see either Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane’s Liverpool form rewarded.
It’d take a brave observer to bet against Messi winning it one day but, for now, things look difficult for him at the Camp Nou. For now though, the Golden Foot Award is something that only of the greatest two players in the world, Ronaldo, can brag about.