Wendell Lira wins FIFA Puskás Award 2015

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wendell Lira, a Brazilian striker, won the 2015 FIFA Puskás Award in Zürich on Monday. The Puskás Award is given to the football player voted by the public to have scored the best goal of the year.

Lira's goal was a bicycle kick, in a 2–1 victory for Goianésia on March 11; he has since moved to Vila Nova. His goal won 46.7% of the vote, with about 1.6 million people voting. He won the award ahead of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, whose solo goal against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final won 33.3% of the vote. Alessandro Florenzi, who plays for AS Roma, scored a 50m long-range goal against FC Barcelona in a UEFA Champions League group stage match and came third with 7.1% of the vote.

When Lira's name was announced he broke into tears. He said "It honestly feels like a dream." Only 297 spectators were present in the stadium, Lira said, when he scored the goal in a regional championship of the second division. He added "I could never have guessed that it would change my life so much".

This was his first time in Europe. As a player of a second division football club, he said "I've been struggling to get my head around meeting so many stars, let alone being up for [the] award with Messi and then having my goal beat his in the vote." Lira also thanked "my family and all those who voted for me."

Messi praised the goal. "The fact is it's a great goal and he deserved it. The award is in good hands".