The People’s Puskas Award: The most amazing amateur goals caught on camera

According to FIFA’s own definition, the Puskas Award is handed out every year by world football’s governing body to the scorer of “the best goal scored … regardless of championship, gender or nationality.” The only stipulation being that it must be captured on film.

However, it must be said that many of the world’s foremost competitions — English Premier League, Champions League, World Cup — have still tended to dominate the shortlist. Cristiano Ronaldo claimed the inaugural award in 2009 and many big names such as Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Olivier Giroud, Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-Min have since been added to the honour roll.

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The three finalists for the 2023 Puskas Award (with the winner to be announced on Jan. 15, 2024) all come from elite professional leagues — the top flights of men’s football in Brazil, England and Portugal — while there were three goals from the 2023 Women’s World Cup on the initial 11-strong shortlist. The most obscure competitions to be shortlisted were the AFC Under-20 Asian Cup (an official FIFA-sanctioned youth tournament taking place over an entire continent) and the second tier of the Brazilian professional league pyramid.

That said, the 2022 Puskas Award did have a refreshingly non-mainstream winner in Marcin Oleksy for his outrageous acrobatic effort scored in the PZU Amp Futbol Ekstraklasa — Poland’s top division of amputee football. Prior to Oleksy’s triumph, the “lowest” level competition to produce a Puskas Award winner was the Campeonato Goiano (Wendell Lira, 2015), a professional state cup organised by the Brazilian Football Confederation.

Of course, there are myriad equally audacious wondergoals scored at nonleague and grassroots level around the world every year, and that is precisely why Danish sports-tech company Veo is aiming to help shine a light on the best with its own competition. The People’s Puskas Award gives those amateur virtuosos overlooked by FIFA the credit and spotlight by showcasing the most spectacular goals scored at all levels.

After highlighting eight goals for the inaugural 2022 People’s Puskas Award, this time the number of nominees has been increased to 23 goals. The voting format has also been tweaked, with a community vote being run via Veo’s dedicated People’s Puskas website. The vote will open in early January with a first phase on Veo’s dedicated People’s Puskas website whittling down the nominees to 16 goals. Those will then go through a series of polls, World Cup bracket-style, on Veo’s social media channels to select an overall winner by the end of the month.

Now sit back, relax and bask in the glory of all 23 nominees.

On a windswept day in the southeast of England, Punjab United’s Brown scored in style by meeting a high, swirling corner with a nonchalant backheeled volley from the edge of the box that had the Tonbridge Angels goalkeeper bamboozled.

After the ball pinged and ricocheted around the goalmouth for what felt like an eternity, it looked like the chance to score had gone for Queen & Constitution FC. However, the half clearance landed at the feet of Austin, who powered down the right channel and toward the byline before unleashing a furious strike from a narrow angle that flew into the far top corner.

Receiving the ball from a throw-in, Williams turned inside, slipped away from her marker and let fly with a monstrous 35-yard effort that curled through the night sky and nestled in the far corner of the Beaconsfield Town net. What an impressive way to score against your former club.

After a low, teasing cross from the right flank had passed straight through the box and out the other side, TSV tried their luck from the left instead. The ball was quickly worked into the feet of Spennesberger, who stepped around a defender and sent a lovely dipping effort underneath the crossbar from 20 yards out.

Starting with a goal kick, Albion quickly moved the ball up the right wing (including a lovely little backheel en route) before a long cross to the edge of the box found Evans. He finished the slick move in style by smashing a powerful first-time volley past the goalkeeper.

The Catalan tradition of technically proficient passing football upheld by Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola looks in safe hands, judging by this goal scored in the KDB Cup. A sequence of precise interplay that swept back and forth across the pitch, and involved all 10 outfield players, ended with Fernandez free to tuck away a smart finish from close range after his teammates had lain waste to their opponents’ defence.

Having cleared a corner in their own penalty area, Cheadle Nomads had high hopes of launching a three-player counter-attack, only to be stopped in their tracks by a stunning 50-yard screamer from Sandbach defender Dodd from inside the centre circle.

Seizing on a loose ball, Fransson sprinted into the thick of the action and hit a swerving shot that pinged in off the far post and left the whole goalframe quaking as he jogged away in celebration.

An incisive attacking move from St Panteleimon put Doukhi in front of goal with two defenders to beat. Rather than rushing his shot, the ice-cold striker dipped into his box of tricks and produced a pair of ruthless rollovers to clear his path before also wrong-footing the goalkeeper and tapping into the unguarded net.

Long Island forward Gallo received the ball on the left side of the field, cut inside past a defender and then found the far top corner with a perfectly measured strike from 20 yards.

After taking possession just inside his own half, Lima darted past two opponents down the right wing before beating a third with some fancy footwork as he closed in on goal. His incredible solo effort was then topped off with a masterpiece of a finish, chipping the ball over the stranded goalkeeper with an impudent rabona.

Bilalli broke through down the middle of the pitch and kept his composure while pulling off two sombreros (delicately lifting the ball over the head of an opponent) to flummox the same defender twice before slotting the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper from close range.

Completely unphased by the final whistle sounding on a neighbouring pitch, Stanton executed a perfect Cruyff turn on the edge of the penalty area, swivelled onto her left foot and arrowed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Erdweg had a meek attacking throw-in cleared by the opposition, but one of their players launched the ball back toward the edge of the penalty area. Reinbrecht showed great improvisation and agility to meet the aerial ball with a backheel and arch a deft volley up and over the goalkeeper.

A long, searching ball was sent deep into the box where the soaring Barker was able to steer it past the goalkeeper with a textbook diving header. There were subtle shades of Robin van Persie at the 2014 World Cup — which is fitting, as the Dutchman’s goal was also shortlisted for the full Puskas Award that year.

A purposeful run down the right wing from 16-year-old Haydn Evans resulted in a deep cross being sent to the far side of the Lydney FC penalty area where Nash stood, poised and waiting, to unleash an outrageous acrobatic volley past the motionless goalkeeper. Unsurprisingly, Dursley were moved to immortalise Nash’s effort as “one of the greatest ever scored” on their home pitch.

Miedinger became something of a viral sensation in Sweden when his spectacular goal against Dalkurd in the third division proved popular among fans. And no wonder. The Stocksund player elegantly juggled the ball over an opponent and volleyed home from range with his right foot, despite being left-footed by trade.

International San Francisco swarmed around the penalty area after closing down a defensive clearance before the ball broke loose into the path of Montgomery. He swiftly moved past a defender, swapped feet and thrashed a left-footed shot into the top corner.

Stubbs controlled a long pass on the edge of the box with a clever touch off the outside of his left boot before, without letting the ball bounce or looking at the target, flowing straight into a right-footed scissor kick that dipped over the goalkeeper’s head.

Four touches was all it took for FC Allschwil to navigate the ball from their own penalty area to the back of the opposing net with maximum efficiency. The fourth and final touch from Setti was an audacious 70-yard strike from well inside his own half.

Playing on a dusty pitch in Nigeria, Auwal didn’t let the lack of fresh turf stop him from converting a Shield City set piece with a powerful 30-yard special that thumped in off the right-hand post.

After seizing possession on the edge of Corinthians’ area, a string of short passes got the ball to Scott on the left side of the box. Without missing a beat, the Procision Oxford forward then lifted the ball over the goalkeeper with an outlandish rabona to seal the deal.

After working the ball smoothly into the NK Bilje penalty area, an impressively powerful rabona cross from the Skofja winger was sent to the far post where Drobjnak was able to nip in and apply the finishing touch.

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