Zlatan Ibrahimovic won his sixth Golden Ball at the annual Fotboll Gala.
by Chipp Reid
Maybe the Svenska Fotbollsförbundet should rename the annual Fotboll Gala the Zlatan Ibrahimovic Show.
The AC Milan and Swedish international striker won the Golden Ball as Sweden’s best football player for the fifth-straight year and sixth in the past seven years. No other player has won the award more than twice.
The 31-year-old striker helped AC Milan win the Italian championship in 2010, although it took another one of his now well-known temper tantrums for him to move to the Serie A. Ibrahimovic started the year at Barcelona, where roster moves threatened to relegate him to the substitute’s list. The Swede refused to even report to training camp at the Nou Camp and Barcelona quickly sent him to Italy on loan. Milan made the move permanent later in the season.
“Zlatan Ibrahimovic wins the gold ball for his efforts in the national team and club team in Milan,” said the judging panel in awarding the striker the Golden Ball. “Under tremendous pressure, he has continued to be an obvious and self-luminous leader of a team of top-class, and added another championship to an already masterful collection.”
The annual awards show in recent years has become more and more repetitive as the same players seem to take home the same honors.
Ibrahimovic, in addition to his sixth Golden Ball, also won top striker honors for the fifth straight year and sixth time overall. Kim Kallstrom won Midfielder of the Year for the second time in the last three years. Defender of the Year went to Olof Mellberg for the fourth year in a row. The award was Mellberg’s fifth.
Andreas Isaksson continued his dominance of the Goalkeeper of the Year award, winning for the sixth time.
On the women's side
There was much more suspense on the women’s side, as Lotta Schelin won the Diamond Ball as Sweden’s top female football player.
Schelin was a main reason for why Sweden took the bronze medal at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup as she scored twice in the tournament and captained the team. She was the clear star on the blagult and also helped her club side, Olympic Lyon on France, to win its first-ever UEFA Women’s Champions League title. It is the second time Schelin won the Diamond Ball.
Schelin also won Forward of the Year for the second time.
The big surprise came in the Midfielder of the Year, where Swiss international and Umea IK playmaker Ramona Bachmann beat out a talented field to become the first non-Swedish player to win the award.
Charlotte Rohlin, who plays for Potsdam in Germany, won Defender of the Year for the second year in a row.
Kristin Hammarstrom won Goalkeeper of the Year honors for the first time. Hammarstrom helped Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC qualify for European play and also played for the national team.
The fact foreign-based players have come to dominate the annual awards led the federation and newspaper sponsor Aftonbladet to create a new category: top players in both the Allsvenskan and Damallsvenskan. Helsingborg midfielder won the men’s award while Bachmann won the women’s.
Conny Karlsson earned Manager of the Year honors for steering Helsingborg to the 2011 Allsvenskan title. Torbjorn Nilsson took home the award for his work at Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC.