GOAL50 is Goal’s annual awards and lists celebrating the 50 best male and female players in the world.

After 13 years the award has changed format from a journalist-decided ranking to a democratic fan vote.

An innovative web app developed this year allowed fans to choose the better player between randomly generated pairs of players. The sum of these fan votes is used to rank the players.

This global poll of fan opinion is the largest fan vote in the history of football.

While fan votes accounted for all votes placed in this year’s GOAL50, the list of players they were deciding between was created by Goal’s hundreds of journalists across its 37 local editions and based on the player’s performances over the course of 2021.

The poll generated more than 23m votes from more than 500,000 fans from 150 countries.

An impressive 14m votes were logged for the men, with an equally impressive 9m cast for the women.

GOAL is part of Footballco, The world’s largest football content and media business, and forms part of its football publishing offering along with Spox in Germany, Voetbalzone in the Netherlands and Calciomercato.com in Italy.

James Lamon, SVP of content and creative at Footballco said: “Over the past 13 years, the evolving digital landscape has fundamentally changed how sports publishers can engage football fans.

“This year we recognised an opportunity to give fans a stronger voice using a clever voting platform we designed in-house. The results have been excellent. Fans cast millions of votes from more than 150 countries, proving how dynamic the two-way connection we share with fans can be.

“Looking forward, we see huge untapped opportunities to bring fans into the conversation using new, innovative tools and experiences.

“Our global scale enables us to activate a cross-platform campaign of this significance. It is exciting to see how we can light up our network and drive real action and engagement. The dwell time on the GOAL50 vote was outstanding, proving fans enjoyed the experience.

“For brands looking to activate in football, GOAL50 provides a new channel to reach audiences and create meaningful touchpoints at scale everywhere in the world.

“GOAL50 2021 owes a lot to the development team at Footballco who built a voting platform that could operate under a huge amount of traffic, as well as our global network of journalists and designers who created the player cards. Together, it created an amazing experience for fans.”

The final top ten for both the men and women are:


Lionel Messi (PSG)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Neymar (PSG)

Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
Irene Paredes (Barcelona)
Asisat Oshoala (Barcelona)
Lieke Martens (Barcelona)
Sydney Lohmann (Bayern Munich)
Caroline Graham Hansen (Barcelona)
María Pilar Leon (Barcelona)
Kosovare Asllani (Real Madrid)
Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)
Lina Magull (Bayern Munich)
The full GOAL50 list for both the men and women can be viewed at GOAL.

Men: https://www.goal.com/en-gb/lists/goal50-2021-the-best-male-players-in-the-world-revealed/blt61639d16d4f08f5c

Women: https://www.goal.com/en-gb/lists/goal50-2021-the-best-female-players-in-the-world-revealed/blt124431e924422144

Previous winners of the men’s award include Robert Lewandowski, Virgil van Dijk, Luka Modric, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Wesley Sneijder.

Previous winners of the women’s award include Pernille Harder and Megan Rapinoe.

As well as GOAL50, Goal also operates the annual NXGN awards and lists which recognise the best young players in world football.

Highlights from GOAL50

Messi or Ronaldo?

Messi won 50.09% of his battles against Cristiano Ronaldo

Fans in Portugal placed Ronaldo at the top of the GOAL50 men’s list and Messi 12th

In Argentina, fans placed Messi at the top of the GOAL50 men’s list and Ronaldo 4th

Mbappe vs Haaland

Mbappe won 51.6% of his battles against Erling Haaland

Barcelona Dominance

Barcelona’s six players in the top ten of the women’s list is the most dominant performance by one team in the history of GOAL50.

US Votes

Fans in the US placed USWNT Christen Press at the top of their GOAL50 women’s list with Alexia Putellas second.

test test