Last night, at a glittering ceremony in London, the Best Football Awards took place. Named like it was created by a panicked Apprentice candidate when an unfortunate graphic design intern warns them it’s five minutes until the print deadline; Luka Modrić walked away with the top prize for Best Men’s Player after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid and reaching the World Cup final with Croatia.
He beat fellow Champions League winner Cristiano Ronaldo into second place with third place going to Mohamed Salah, who was nominated for scoring lots of goals but winning nothing that wasn’t decided by a poll on Twitter.
Elsewhere on the night, there were also wins for Didier Deschamps as Best Men’s Coach, Thibaut Courtois going home after being named Best Goalkeeper, and the Puskás Award, for the Best Goal, somehow going to Salah for his strike against Everton in the Merseyside derby.
And while I’m sure we can mostly agree that these were worthy winners, we’re not here for worthy winners. So here’s the Paddy Power Alternative Best Football Awards.
Best Men’s Player
3. Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
1. of the most excellent or desirable type or quality
Let’s be honest, if you’re going to have an awards ceremony called The Best then you probably need to include the best player in the world. You don’t need me to run through his honours and statistics, if you need reminding of them then just do a Twitter search for Cristiano Ronaldo and look at the replies; you’ll find everything from how many more goals he scored and dribbles he completed to how many more times he hit the post and how much more tax he dodged.
2. Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City & France)
He won the Premier League, with Manchester City becoming the first team in the competition to break the 100 points barrier, and he won the World Cup with France, part of their latest Golden Generation. He did all this while playing a grand total of 403 minutes across both competitions, that’s less time than it would take to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
1. Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny & Iran)
The Cruyff Turn. The Panenka Penalty. The Kinnear Rant.
Many great players have given their name to iconic pieces of skill, at the 2018 World Cup it was Milad Mohammadi who earned his place in history. With Iran needing a goal against Spain to have any hope of qualifying for the knock-out rounds, Mohammadi picked up the ball to deliver what many viewers anticipated would be a Rory Delapesque throw into David De Gea’s penalty area. Instead, the Iranian defender did a roly-poly. Iconic.
Best Men’s Coach
3. Gareth Southgate (England)
The English summer was a strange one; the sun shone, the birds sang, and everyone forgot about Brexit for a while. And England fans fell in love with the national side again as they reached the World Cup semi-finals, and it was all thanks to a man who once spent £12.5m on Afonso Alves. Gareth Southgate’s men even assured they didn’t have to do any embarrassing Pizza Hut adverts by actually winning a penalty shoot out, while also helping waistcoats achieve their biggest spike in popularity since the Prohibition era.
2. Aliou Cissé (Senegal)
He did that cool fist pump thing. Remember that? It was cool. That’s about it really. Just a cool fist pump.
1. Glenn Tamplin (Billericay Town)
It can’t be easy working under a difficult, eccentric chairman – just ask Rafa Benítez. But what do you do when the difficult and eccentric owner you have to work under is you?
Well, you quite often sack yourself and then give yourself your own job back again. Despite all of this uncertainty and upheaval, Glenn Tamplin still managed to deliver the Isthmian League Premier Division title. At the time of writing, Tamplin has Billericay Town up for sale – it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the new owner was Glenn Tamplin, who immediately hires Glenn Tamplin as their new manager.
⏰ 2pm Monday:
? @BTFC owner @GlennTamplin introduces Steve Watt as clubs new manager to his players, by adding him to their WhatsApp group.
⏰ 5.30pm Monday:
❌ @GlennTamplin sacks Steve Watt after he found out he had a dig at him in a press conference last season.
— SPORF (@Sporf) September 12, 2018
3. Loris Karius (Liverpool, now Besiktas)
You don’t need me to explain why. It’s beggar belief that Liverpool replaced the goalkeeper that helped them reach the Champions League final with a man they put seven goals past in the semis. Outrageous.
2. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich & Germany)
The German has long been considered one of the finest goalkeepers in the world, underlined by the kind of trophy cabinet that Tottenham can only dream of eventually finishing building. Neuer is also one of the true innovators of modern football, an early adopter of having feet as well as hands, but his invention went one step further at the World Cup – deciding to join Toni Kroos and Mesut Özil in midfield. He even managed to play a pass those two would be proud of, unfortunately it was to Ju Se-jong who set up Son Heung-min to slot into an empty net.
1. David Harewood (Supergirl & England)
England have a fine tradition of goalkeepers; Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton, David Seaman. Sessions. And this summer a new star was born, doing something England have struggled to do – win a penalty shootout.
In saving from The Rest of the World’s Kevin Pietersen and Nicky Byrne, David Harewood managed to banish the demons of 2014 when Woody Harrelson’s spot kick left England embarrassed on home soil. Harewood proved to be a more than adequate upgrade on Jamie Theakston.
3. Juninho Bacuna (HUDDERSFIELD TOWN vs. Stoke City)
The pressure is on when you’re named after two of the finest players in recent memory; Juninho Paulista and Leandro Bacuna, you need to justify that hype. So there’s no better way to do that than a 40 yard volley on your debut. And in the greatest knockout competition in the world, the Carabao Cup. That’s exactly what Juninho Bacuna managed to do, BANG, straight past his own goalkeeper.
2. James Milner (ROMA vs. Liverpool)
Defender/Midfielder/Forward (Right/Left/Centre). A niche carved out by legendary footballers like Luis Enrique, Niclas Alexandersson and Paul Warhurst, and now James Milner. A jack of all trades; he can tackle, he can pass, he can run for 90 minutes, he can get his head on a Dejan Lovren cross and plant a bullet header past third best goalkeeper Loris Karius.
1. Mario Mandžukić (CROATIA vs. France)
As a young footballer, Mario Mandžukić probably dreamt of scoring in the World Cup final. He sat in bed and played it out in his mind. Step by step. Pass by pass. Against all odds, his Croatia side reach the biggest match in football. His eyes closed. Daydreaming. He sees it vividly. Hugo Lloris miscontrols and kicks it against him and the ball rolls into an empty net. Just how he’d always imagined it. Perfect.
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