“People were all talking about ‘Puskás’ and I thought it was some kind of joke. I just tried to ignore it, but it was impossible. I’d never seen anything like it. In the days after the shortlist with the ten finalists came out I got 300 calls from all over the place.”
Wendell Lira gives an insight into the whirlwind that picked him up after being nominated for the FIFA Puskas Award.
“I must say, the message he gave to my generation was very important because it was after the Second World War and it was basically - be strong enough to be yourself. That is a very strong message and very important for my generation.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger pays tribute to musician David Bowie.
“Abby in many ways changed the game for us in the USA. The goal in 2011, our country just got behind it. It was such an amazing moment in sport in our country; it kind of put women’s football back on the map in America.”
Jill Ellis reflects on the impact Abby Wambach had on football in USA before retiring.
“Balotelli is a very nice guy and an extraordinary person, but he did some unbelievable things off the pitch. He had a habit of arriving at training before anyone else and peeing on all the players' boots… it was very funny. I've never seen a kid at 18-years-old do something like it and not feel sorry for any of it, even to Julio Cesar and Maicon."
Former Brazilian prodigy Kerlon looks back on his time at Inter Milan with the famously mischievous Mario Balotelli.
“It was always my dream when I was a boy, though I had to leave at a very early age because of my situation and it didn’t happen. I had to go to Europe, start out with Barcelona and make my career there. But I would like to return to Argentinian football one day.”
Lionel Messi explains that he hopes to get a taste of football in his homeland someday.
“He was so lovely. He was happy, relaxed and smiling. He told me that he was proud to give me this certificate and finally, he hugged me and then left. It was beyond surreal.”
FIFA Interactive World Cup 2015 winner Abdulaziz Alshehri recounts his meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo – the man whose virtual hat-trick won him his title.
“There’s a button inside of me that is pushed when there’s a lot on the line and there’s a pressure situation.”
Carli Lloyd discusses her reputation for scoring in finals, having been on target in Olympic gold medal matches of 2008 and 2012, as well as hitting a hat-trick in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 final.
“You loved Newcastle, Pav, but I can assure you that Newcastle loved you. It was a privilege to meet you, it was a privilege to learn from you, it was a privilege to know you and call you my friend.”
Former Newcastle United Steve Harper eulogises about his Magpies team-mate Pavel Srnicek after the ex-Czech Republic goalkeeper passed away recently.
“There's always the chance that I might break out into a rash or start crying at the moment I start seeing Ronaldo. I'm planning to play it quite cool, but I'm sure that won't be the case on the night.”
Manchester United fan James Nesbitt revealed ahead of hosting the Gala that there was a chance the sight of the former Red Devils' star could disrupt his professional demeanour. Fortunately on the night he did, largely, keep his emotions in check.
"I like Neymar a lot, but I think Barcelona will not allow him to leave. It would perhaps be easier for Barcelona to let go of Messi. Could Messi come to PSG? Perhaps, I mean, why not? Everything is possible.”
Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva ponders the possibility of seeing sections of Barcelona's frontline turning out at the Parc de Princes.
“A while after he came to the first team we shared a trip and I discovered an educated boy, who was respectful, humble and not conceited at all. And that makes him exemplary, because being what he is now, being the best, he hasn't lost those values, he hasn't lost a bit of that humility and he respects his team-mates. I think Leo never wanted to be different from the others."
Xavi reflects on getting to know Messi and how he has grown
“Messi no longer competes with anyone, he is a myth. No one can doubt that Messi should win the Ballon d'Or. I think it's impossible that someone can overcome him. I doubt there will be another player like Messi.”
Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov adds to the plaudits for Messi
Juventus central midfielders past and present meet at the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2015 Gala in the shape of Paul Pogba and Edgar Davids.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 11, 2016
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli, who is just 19-years-old, pokes fun at himself as he signs a new contract with the North London club, sharing a picture from his MySpace page that went viral.
A lots changed in 5 years pic.twitter.com/JLyUDNbxI4
— Dele Alli (@Dele_Alli) January 12, 2016