If you’re a soccer fan and you followed the recent Ballon d’Or award ceremony, you must have heard of the Kopa Trophy.
Jude Bellingham, the 20-year-old midfielder for Real Madrid and England, has just won the Kopa Trophy at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris. But what is this prestigious award and why is it so important for young players?
The history of the Kopa Trophy
The Kopa Trophy is an association football award presented to the best performing player worldwide under the age of 21 during a joint ceremony with the Ballon d’Or, the most coveted individual prize in the sport. The award is named after late French footballer Raymond Kopa, who was the winner of the 1958 Ballon d’Or and one of the greatest players of his generations.
The Kopa Trophy was first awarded in 2018, with Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé becoming the inaugural winner. Since then, the trophy has been won by Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt in 2019, Barcelona’s Pedri in 2021, and Barcelona’s Gavi in 2022. The award was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The winner of the Kopa Trophy is selected by a jury of all former Ballon d’Or winners, who vote for their top three choices from a shortlist of ten nominees. The nominees are chosen by France Football, the magazine that organizes the Ballon d’Or. The criteria for selecting the nominees include their performances, talent, potential, personality, and charisma.
Last night, Bellingham beat nine other nominees to win the Kopa Trophy, including Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala, Manchester United’s Rasmus Hojlund, and three Barcelona starlets: Alejandro Balde, Gavi, and Pedri. He became the first Englishman to win the award and received it from former Ballon d’Or winner Eden Hazard at the ceremony. He dedicated his trophy to his family, his teammates, and his former club Dortmund
We can’t wait to see the next generation of young players who will go on to win this prestigious award in the future.