Left foot, right foot, headers and penalties – Radamel Falcao had scored them all. All, that was, except for one type of goal: “I want to score from free-kicks!” the Atletico Madrid striker told FIFA.com a few months ago. “That’s what I’m lacking and I’m going to give it a go. I hope I’ll get my chance soon.” That chance came on Sunday 21 October in the dying seconds of Atletico’s league encounter with Real Sociedad. And he did not waste it.
Falcao is currently one of the most in-form No9s in world football, with 49 goals in 59 competitive games for Los Rojiblancos and five in six 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifiers for Colombia. It is no surprise, then, that he is among the 23 candidates for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2012, and is considered a strong contender for the prize. Will he take the much-coveted crown for the first time? “That’s for others to say, not me,” he said, distancing himself from the debate and acknowledging the quality of his fellow challengers.
When FIFA.com spoke exclusively with the man known as El Tigre, we could not pass up the opportunity to ask him for his tip for the prestigious prize. “That’s a tough question!” he said. “I think there are several players who have done a lot this season to deserve it, thanks to their achievements with both their clubs and national sides. It could be Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Andres Iniesta. They are some of the players who have stood out in the past season.”
There is, however, one category in which Falcao can name a clear winner. If it were up to him, the Colombian would award the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award to Diego Simeone, his boss at Atletico Madrid. El Cholo is not on the final shortlist for the prize but he certainly made a strong case for inclusion, having led Atletico to glory in both the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup. Falcao, perhaps unsurprisingly, was the star of the show in the Super Cup final, scoring a hat-trick in his side's superb victory over Chelsea.
There are several players who have done a lot this season to deserve it, thanks to their achievements with both their clubs and national sides.
“I think I’d give it to Diego Simeone, as he’s had a great season. But this [decision] is also a very big responsibility,” he smiled. “I’d choose El Cholo because I know him. He’s helped us a great deal and I’m very grateful to him for everything. I don’t know, have not worked with and have not really followed any of the other coaches, who I’m sure deserve to win it too,” he added.
At the Zurich Kongresshaus on Monday 7 January, the winners of all these prizes and more will be revealed, including the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of 2012. When we asked Falcao, one of the most prolific strikers in the game, to tell us which of his many goals he would put forward for the accolade, he had little hesitation: “Probably the first goal I scored in the Europa League final. It was a beauty!” Indeed it was: his delightful left-footed dink over the onrushing Chelsea goalkeeper set Atletico on course for victory, and was in a similar mould to some of his other strikes this season for club and country.
We will have to wait until late November to find out which goals have made the final shortlist for the FIFA Puskas Award. But in the meantime, don’t forget: you can play a big part in the outcome by casting your vote online at FIFA.com.
Have your say
Of all the goals Falcao has scored this season, which one is your favourite?