In a Euro year it was of little surprise that the newly crowned European champions would feature in the FIFA Best awards this year, with both Dutch coach, Sarina Wiegman and talismanic attacker, Lieke Martens picking up silverware.
The favourite in the short-list of three that featured fellow European Championship finalist manager, Nils Nielsen and Olympique Lyonnais’ former treble-winning coach, Gérard Prêcheur, Wiegman became the second ever recipient of the FIFA Best coach award.
Involved with the Dutch women’s national team since 2014, it was a natural progression for Wiegman to transition from assistant back to interim coach before fully taking the reins after the departure of Arjan van der Laan. Already familiar with the players and their own strengths it was a perfect marriage when Wiegman was given the run of the team at the end of 2016, the coach will little time as the manager before the start of the Euros.
Backed by a strong home-crowd, the Dutch team relied on a fixed starting XI that saw the team go from strength to strength over the summer before winning the 2017 Euros, ably backed by Wiegman all the way.
Not just notable as one of the three on the shortlist for the women’s Best player as the only one who really had a spot in the top three, but of a player who has lit up every pitch she’s taken to this year. Simply on fire for Rosengård over the first-half of the year, Martens went to the Euros as the player in form, stepping up her game for her national team once more she – and all the Oranje Leeuwinnen – captured the hearts and minds of the Dutch nation. Scooping the Player of the Tournament award ahead of teammate, Jackie Groenen and Danish captain, Pernille Harder it was clear Martens would be in a shoe-in for more silverware. Her scintillating form saw her awarded the UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe Award over the Summer as she settled into new club, Barcelona where she has continued her fantastic form this season.
When talking about the award for best women’s player, or indeed anything relating to the women’s side of the FIFA Best award it’s hard to get past the controversies with who ends up in the final three. The award having drawn hefty derision in its short life so far and just like last year, there were eyebrows raised when the final three for the Best player was announced – though the shortlist for the best coaches carried far less questions. Not only was Carli Lloyd again despite a pedestrian season but huge critic was drawn over the inclusion of teenager – and collegiate player, Deyna Castellanos.
As well as having two players who were arguably out of place, but a number of eyebrows were raised over the exclusion of attackers like Harder and Sam Kerr who have unquestionably had world class years. The fallout from players and fans alike has once more gone to devalue the award and left a bitter taste in the mouths of many associated with the women’s game.