The Puskas Award is handed out to the player who has scored what the voting public believe to be the best goal in the period of September (2014) to September (2015).
The judging panel has whittled down this year’s long-list to a perfect ten candidates, and you can witness these wondrous strikes for yourself below; alongside their respective betting odds (of course!).
Lionel Messi (Evens)
The diminutive Argentine picks up the ball on the right-hand touchline about 50 yards from goal. He sets off on one of his trademark jinking runs, beating one, two, three Athletic Bilbao defenders (and the same one twice – bad times), before cutting inside and curling a left-footed shot low to the goalkeeper’s left.
A sublime solo goal, and one that is worthy of winning this prestigious award.
Alessandro Florenzi (10/1)
The Roma full back netted this absolute worldie against Barcelona. He picked the ball up in his own half, a burst of pace takes him past an opponent before he strikes the ball from just inside the Barca half from the right touchline. Marc Andre ter Stegen is caught hopelessly off his line, and the ball takes the cheekiest of deflections off the inside of the post before spinning seductively in the back of the net.
Defenders are very rarely nominated for the Puskas, so hats off to Florenzi.
Marcel Ndjeng (12/1)
You might think that nothing spectacular could happen in a pre season friendly (apart from the possibility of a Balti Pie if your team visits a non-league club), but in this non-glittering clash between Paderborn and Bolton Wanderers the remarkable did occur.
A hopeful cross is half-cleared by the Bolton defence to the centre circle where Ndjeng, prowling, strikes it first time on the volley towards goal. Cue pandemonium as the ball nestles in the back of the onion bag. Pies all round!
Carli Lloyd (14/1)
Lloyd may be the only female player on the list, but boy what a strike it was. She intercepted a Japan pass before expertly lobbing the keeper from the halfway line.
What makes this goal all the more impressive is that she attempted such a strike in a World Cup final; the grandest stage of them all.
Esteban Ramirez (14/1)
Nobody can accuse the Puskas Award judges of not doing their homework. This barnstormer comes from Costa Rica’s Primera Division, where Esteban Ramirez controls a clearance on his chest, heads it past an opponent before unleashing the mother of all volleys into the top corner. Pick that one out!
Gonzalo Castro (14/1)
Evoking memories of Marco Van Basten’s legendary strike for Holland against the USSR in Euro ’88, a cross-field ball is pumped diagonally into the Deportivo box which Real Sociedad’s Castro – arriving at full steam – catches with the sweetest of first-time volleys that flies into the net.
If the Puskas Award is handed out for technique alone, then this is your winner ladies and gentlemen.
Philippe Mexes (14/1)
An agricultural centre half scoring with a scissors kick from 20 yards, you say? No problem: witness AC Milan’s Philippe Mexes timing the pants off this strike to absolute perfection as a corner is floated out to him on the edge of the box.
It’s worth a vote due to the sheer novelty of it: Mexes has scored just 29 goals in a career spanning more than 500 professional games!
Carlos Tevez (16/1)
The former Juventus man picked up a loose ball in his own half, shrugged off one marker, jinked past two more before sliding the ball home in a perfect display of clinical finishing.
This fantastic strike bears an uncanny resemblance to the one that little Michael Owen scored against Tevez’s Argentina in World Cup ’98.
Wendell Lira (16/1)
Lira’s strike for Goianesia in the Brazilian league is more a feat of physical excellence than anything else. Running onto a lofted through ball into the penalty area, he somehow manages to corkscrew his body before taking off and connecting with the perfect overhead bicycle kick.
If the football doesn’t work out for him, at least Lira always has Olympic Diving to fall back on.
David Ball (20/1)
And last, but by no means least, is English football’s only entrant; this fine strike from Fleetwood’s David Ball. He receives the ball with his back to goal about 25 yards, turns, beats a Preston player with a drag back before calmly unloading the most delicate of chips over the stranded keeper and into the net.
If this was a goal scored by the likes of Messi or Ronaldo, you’d wager that it would be a lot higher in the betting pecking order.
And that’s your lot: but the good news is that you can have your own say as to who wins the Puskas Award over on the FIFA website, with the winner announced in January. There will be no (alleged) vote rigging in this FIFA vote!