Monday 31 October 2016, 13:14

Boban: The Best are truly global awards

Every boy and girl that chases after a ball nurtures the same dreams: to play for a big club, represent their country and be recognised as the best player in the world. Zvonimir Boban, who achieved two of those goals, can vouch for that. “If you’re a football player, you just dream about being the best,” he said. “I don’t think there can be anything like walking up to the stage and receiving an award like that. I never had that honour. In my day, there were players who were quite obviously better than me,” he added with a smile.

The 48-year-old Boban has good reason to feel pleased with life. Now a FIFA Deputy Secretary General, the former AC Milan and Croatia midfield schemer is proud to be presenting The Best FIFA Football Awards™, the ceremony that will crown the outstanding performers of 2016 on 9 January 2017 in Zurich.

“It’s the best prize there is, no doubt about it,” added Boban. “It’s unique and it’s global. It covers the whole planet. And what makes it even better is the fact that it’s the captains and the coaches of the national teams, the people who are really in the know, who are involved in making the choice. They’re the experts, and not only do they share their passion for the game with the winners, they’re also in the very same line of work.”

Taking a seat beside Boban, his former AC Milan team-mate and 1992 FIFA Player of the Year Marco van Basten, who is now FIFA Chief Officer for Technical Development, echoed those words: “There’s no greater reward for a player than the recognition of their peers. They’re the ones who know what it means to push yourself day after day and reach that very high level. That’s what makes an award like this even more important.”

Presented to the finest players and coaches in both the men’s and women’s games, The Best Awards are voted for by the national team captains and coaches of FIFA’s Member Associations, a select group of journalists from each country and, for the very first time, the fans. “The press are another very important part of the game,” explained Boban. “The media analyse every last detail and from every possible angle in trying to work out who is the best. Their opinion also counts for a lot when it comes to choosing the award winners, while the fans make beautiful things for the game. It’s great to bring all four of these components to The Best."

Recognition for the fans   Aside from the top players and coaches in men’s and women’s football, January’s ceremony will also see awards handed out for fair play and the best goal of the year, with the make-up of the FIFA/FIFPro World11, the ultimate dream team, also being revealed.

Another of the high points of the evening will come with the presentation of the FIFA Fan Award, which will recognise the most emotional fan-related moment of 2016. “We decided to have an award for the fans for a very simple reason,” said Boban of an accolade that will be voted for by the fans themselves on FIFA’s digital platforms. “Without them, football wouldn’t be what it is, which is why we’ve decided to reward them too. We want to acknowledge everything they bring to the sport. For me, it will be very special to see that type of message on the stage.”

That stage will welcome the cream of planet football on 9 January next year, a date Boban is looking forward to very much: “It’s going to be a fantastic day, and we’ll be celebrating football above all else. That’s the most important prize in the world – the best there is!”