U.S. Midfielder is the Only Woman Among 10 Nominees
CHICAGO (Nov. 21, 2011) – U.S. midfielder Heather O’Reilly is among 10 nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award to determine the best goal of the year from around the world. Her magnificent strike from distance against Colombia in the USA’s second group match of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup earned her the honor.
She is the only woman among the nominees that include Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Argentina, Zlatan Ibrahimović of AC Milan and Sweden, Neymar of Santos and Brazil and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and England.
“It was an amazing journey just to be in the World Cup, and then to score a quality goal like that was certainly a thrill,” said O’Reilly. “Sometimes you hit shots like that on the training field, but to see it translate into a game of that magnitude was a very rewarding feeling. It’s an amazing honor to be nominated among all these great players, and I’m really proud there is a woman on the list because I think the World Cup showed how entertaining and well-played our game can be at the highest levels.”
Fans from across the world will decide which of the 10 goals selected by FIFA’s football experts will win the award. Videos of the 10 goals, as well as the list of scorers and the voting tool, can be found here on FIFA.com: http://www.fifa.com/ballondor/puskasaward/index.html
Fans will be able to vote on FIFA.com and francefootball.fr until Dec. 5, when the three goals with the most votes will be disclosed during a press conference in Paris. Immediately after the announcement on Dec. 5, FIFA.com and francefootball.fr users will be able to vote again for their favorite of the three remaining goals. Voting will close, and the winner will be revealed on the day of the FIFA Ballon d’Or gala on January 9, 2012.
O’Reilly’s 12th minute goal (the third of her career in the Women’s World Cup play) was the opening score of the USA’s 3-0 victory against Colombia. As Colombia tried to build out of the back, team captain Natalia Gaitan played a ball out to Liana Salazar whose first touch was too hard. O’Reilly pounced on the loose ball and fired an absolute rocket from 33 yards out across the face of the goal that stuck into the upper left corner. To celebrate the goal, O’Reilly and her entire team came together in a line to give a military-style salute to the crowd in honor of the large contingent of U.S. service personnel supporting the team in the stadium.
The FIFA Puskás Award, created in honor and in memory of Ferenc Puskás, the captain and star of the Hungarian national team during the 1950s, will be presented for the third year in a row at the FIFA Ballon d’Or gala 2011, which will be held at the Kongresshaus in Zurich.
During this televised ceremony, the winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the best player of 2011 as well as the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2011 will also be revealed. The FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award and the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award will also be presented for the second time. The FIFA World XI, the FIFA Presidential Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award will also be presented during the gala.