- Event in London reveals The Best final candidates for seven awards
- Five FIFA Legends were present to help unveil the finalists
- Di Matteo, Okocha, Scott, Shevchenko and Shilton spoke after the event
The finalists for The Best FIFA Football Awards™ were announced at an event in London, where the awards ceremony will be hosted on 23 October, and five FIFA Legends were there to help unveil the final candidates.
FIFA.com was there to get their reaction to The Best finalists announcement, with Roberto Di Matteo, Jay Jay Okocha, Alex Scott, Andriy Shevchenko and Peter Shilton all giving their views on the final nominees for the seven awards who were unveiled today.
Roberto Di Matteo
On why so many top coaches have an Italian influence
I think there is a good education for coaches in Italy. They have a deep understanding of the game. Italy has a history of producing good coaches and managers. It’s a country that has a feel for it.
Playing in Italy, it gives you great tactical awareness and that helps. Growing up in Italy, bringing all the education to become a coach certainly is something that is part of the fact that Italian coaches are great.
On his favourites for the Puskas Award
For me, Mandzukic’s overhead kick in the Champions League final was a nice technical goal. Matic’s strike in the top corner too. I also liked the goal by the goalkeeper [Oscarine Masuluke], and the celebration afterwards was unique too! I scored a few goals from 20-25 yards, so that’s my range!
Jay Jay Okocha
On the importance of being an entertainer on the field
Football is a show and you have to enjoy what you are doing. The most important thing is to recognise when to do it and when to play for the team. That’s why [Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar] are the best players in the world.
His choice for the Puskas Award
I think they were all amazing goals, but the one I will vote for is the goalkeeper [Oscarine Masuluke] because it happens very rarely. It’s not just very rare for a goalkeeper to score, but to score a bicycle kick in the last minute of the game as well. I think it’s special.
On The Best FIFA Women’s Player final nominees
I’m not surprised Lieke Martens is on there, she had a fantastic UEFA Women’s EURO and what the Netherlands went on to achieve this summer was absolutely fantastic. Everybody knows what Carli Lloyd can do, she’s one of the names that you mention when you speak about women’s football. The surprising one for me is the youngster Deyna Castellanos. With the [Puskas-nominated] goal she scored and for the award to be voted for by players, captains, fans – she’s deservedly on there. In fact, when you look at the three nominees, they deserve to be on there.
On defenders not making the top three
There’s definitely a defender’s union! [laughing] Everyone loves a striker, and the fabulous goals they score. I think for Lucy [Bronze], I’ve seen her work so hard. Everyone who watches her regards her as one of the best. But her time will come, she just needs to keep doing what she’s doing.
On Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar
They are three unbelievable players. They all deserve to win the award. Cristiano Ronaldo won the Champions League scoring two goals in the final and Leo Messi is a fantastic player, it was a great season for him. Neymar, I’m happy for him, in the last five years, it’s been a big competition between Messi and Ronaldo, and now Neymar is coming into play.
On the importance of strikers
I think forwards will always be up there in these nominations. There is a pressure for the player to perform who has to score the goals. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are scoring the goals but they are also leaders. They are scoring the goals, and make the teams win the trophies.
On the nominees for the inaugural The Best FIFA Goalkeeper Award
I was really pleased to see [Keylor] Navas in the final three. I think he has done really well at Real Madrid. He was my goalkeeper of the last World Cup when he was playing for Costa Rica. Very technically good, nice style about him. Obviously, [Manuel] Neuer is very strong, good leader, and very hard to beat.
I think [Gianluigi] Buffon would shade it for me. I think he’s had such a fantastic career. Obviously, he’s not getting any younger, but I think that says a lot. He’s been so consistent.
On the importance of recognising goalkeepers
Goalkeeping is the second most important [position] behind being a striker because scoring goals is the most important art in football, but I think goalkeeping is a very close second. If you haven’t got a really good goalkeeper, you very rarely have a good team.