Ballon d'Or for Goalkeepers - the much-needed Yashin Trophy explained

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 26. srpnja 2023.

Perpetually overlooked, not just by the awards but also by the discourse, goalkeepers usually have their five minutes of fame after every amazing performance. Yet come the end of the season, the articles and the tweets are aimed at the men at the other side of the team.

Forwards, midfielders, defenders, ten empty spots and then goalkeepers. Look no further than to see that there has been only one goalkeeper winner of the Ballon d'Or trophy for 67 years. It was only natural to name the new award for the best goalkeeper of the season in honour of that lone winner of the Ballon d'Or who took the trophy with gloves on - Lev Yashin.

Yet, it took France Football, the magazine behind the Ballon d'Or award, 63 years of running the prize before they finally decided to give the sole award to the keepers alone.

FF expanded its award repertoire in 2018 with the addition of the Kopa Trophy for the best U21 players. Yet, they have possibly dropped the ball a bit for the Yashin trophy as the jury is not as impressive as for the Kopa Trophy.

In the case of the best goalkeepers in the world, the journalists of France Football select the 10 goalkeeping names that have achieved the most in the past season. Then, the panel of journalists - one from each country - gives out five, three, and one point to the three of their choosing.

While Lev Yashin died in 1990, aged 60, and couldn't be advised for the jury, France Football could've engaged other goalkeepers that were near winning it. Oliver Kahn finished third in voting on two ocassions. Dino Zoff was second-placed in 1973. But no one would object with Peter Schmeichel, Kahn, Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon and others being members of the panel. Giving much-needed authority to the award.

Yashin Trophy past winners

Starting in 2019, the inaugural winner of the Yashin trophy is Allison, the Brazilian goalkeeper of Liverpool who won handily beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ederson in the first year. In 2020, the award wasn't given out due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gianluigi Donnarumma managed to win it in 2021 despite playing for Paris Saint-Germain where success is expected and almost guaranteed. Driving and then coasting on the memorable success of Italy in the 2020 Euros that was played in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Edouard Mendy broke onto the scene rapidly and was the second man in the running, only to fizzle out as quickly in the following years. While Jan Oblak, the man with the most nominations so far (alongside Neuer with three), was third.

Thibaut Courtois
Thibaut Courtois

In 2022, Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid and Belgium got the nod due to the Champions League and La Liga success. Beating Alisson and Ederson from the Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester City.

With additional metrics for goalkeepers being strongly tracked, like the number of saves, penalty saves, passing percentages, and others, the position will hardly be overlooked as much. Ballon d’Or adjacent to Yashin Trophy will add to the reputation of the men diving into studs with no regard for their own safety.



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