And the winner is… Carli Lloyd?
USA forward Carli Lloyd was crowned FIFA’s best player for the second consecutive year last night, but this time it was a surprise.
Up against Olympic gold medallist Melanie Behringer of Germany and five-time winner Marta of Brazil, Lloyd finished with 20.68% of the total votes compared to Behringer (16.60%) and Marta (12.34%).
The result was voted on by a variety of people: coaches, team captains and journalists from all of FIFA’s member nations.
But if you look back at 2016 with the Olympics as the main spectacle in women’s international football, you have to wonder whether Lloyd was actually the best?
When Lloyd received the award she said: “Honestly I wasn’t expecting this, I know Melanie, from Germany did fantastic in the 2016 Olympics as well as Marta in Brazil. Both so deserving of this award.”
She added: “I play on the best team in the world and this award would not be possible without my extraordinary teammates, who are fantastic competitors.”
Don’t get me wrong, Lloyd did have a good year. She finished 2016 reaching the quarter-finals in Rio, she got 17 goals and 11 assists in 21 games for the USA, alongside a great record for Houston Dash with five goals and three assists in seven games.
Behringer, on the other hand, finished her glittering international career by winning gold with Germany at the Olympics for the first time as well as being the tournament’s leading goalscorer with five goals.
Then you have Marta. She was the Olympic flag bearer at Rio, winner of “the best” honour five times in a row and has been amongst the candidates for 12 of the last 13 editions.
Although she didn’t get the trophies this year, Marta helped carry the Brazilian national team to the bronze medal match and was undoubtedly one of the best players at the Rio Olympics.
Tough competition to beat, especially for a second time in a row.
Incredible honor to win. This won't stop me. I want to be better in 2017 than I was in 2016. Thx to everyone for all the support. 😊 pic.twitter.com/BNrX4DIdR1— Carli Lloyd (@CarliLloyd) January 10, 2017
In 2015, Lloyd led her USA side to FIFA Women’s World Cup glory and also received the top individual award in the women’s game.
Something you can’t argue with after the USA forward scored a hat-trick in the final against Japan.
The newly appointed 'Queen of the pitch' had a better year last year, but managed to win the voters hearts once again.
Lloyd finished her speech by saying: “Here’s to 2017, as we’ve got to start preparing for 2019 World Cup qualifiers.
“Thank you so much everybody, thank you to the fans who voted for me and to everybody who supported me this past year," she said.