Michał Biaoński, Interia: Today in Paris, France Football will decide the referendum on the 2021 Ballon d’Or. We all hope Robert Lewandowski lifts this trophy this time. It’s hard to find serious opponents as fit as Robert all year round. How do you control it?
Zbigniew Bunic: The problem is that I don’t understand why the Ballon d’Or was not awarded last year. Of course, we had a problem with the coronavirus pandemic. He could have ruled out organizing the party. it is clear. On the other hand, the organization of the ceremony is something other than the result of the referendum for the best footballer of the year. The latter could have happened without any problems. What’s more is that, despite the ongoing pandemic, all matches, including the Champions League, have been completed in the “last four” format.
It seems to me that Robert Lewandowski deserved last year the Player of the Year title, which he received from FIFA and UEFA, but also the Ballon d’Or.
Has the balance of power changed this year?
Although Bayern did not win the Champions League, Robert is also the most serious candidate to win the referendum. For a simple reason: he won the championship and the German Cup, scoring the most goals. The problem is – in my opinion – that the Golden Ball formula is a bit outdated. In Africa, America, the German league is not seen much. This league is popular in Europe, but not as global as the English Premier League or La Liga. Here’s a problem. However, with the exception of Robert, no player deserves the 2021 Ballon d’Or very much.
What information do you get about the results of the referendum?
Depends on where you put your ear. Some say Messi will win, others say Lewandowski will win. One thing is for sure – the winner already knows they won. The week before, “France Football” reports to the winner to prepare some materials, all the details of the award ceremony. We’ll see if the areas around the winner will be too narrow for information to be released before its official announcement.
There are rumors claiming that France Football called Messi and told him that he had won the Ballon d’Or. If confirmed, I would be very surprised. When I wonder who deserves it, it’s in my personal standings, certainly not Messi. He hasn’t won anything big this year. Yes, he won the America’s Cup, but this is due to the entire Argentine national team, of which he was the captain and the most important player. Overall, when it comes to everyday football, where you have to prove that you’re the best, Messi hasn’t done great things this year. On the other hand, his universal nature, size and versatility are so great that whether he shines or not, as long as he’s out on the pitch, everyone will have the token that he’s the best soccer player in the world anyway. I also agree that when it comes to his technical numbers catching the ball, dribbling and playing with one contact, he is the best. However, when it comes to real value this year, I think even Karim Benzema and Jorginho were better than him. Jorginho from Chelsea won the Champions League, and against Italy – the title of champion of the old continent.
He was a key player in both teams.
– exactly. It was even a symbol for the players in both cups. However, if Messi wins, I’d be a little surprised by that.
In “Prawda Futbolu” editor Roman Kołtonia I used the phrase “If Messi wins, it means that the situation is out of the control of ‘France Football'”.
In discussions about football you have to discuss it with a hint of contradiction, but it must be kind and gentle. We love football and not every phrase requires arguing or putting someone against the wall. On the other hand, the formula for the Golden Ball has changed over the years. In the past, it was not known how, what and where. Between me and Paolo Rossi, Giresse was dumped in 1982. And that was just a scandal! Giresse took second place, for what reason is not known at all.
Paolo Rossi had 115 votes, Alain Giresse – 63, Zbigniew Bunic – 54, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was fourth.
At that time, there was no transparency like today. This was just the problem at the time. But such is the peculiarity of public referendums, as in “Przegląd Sportowy”, when discussions are often held about who is the best or most popular athlete and how the silver medalist in rowing at the Tokyo Olympics compares with Robert Lewandowski. Let’s treat it as a promotion of sports, in all disciplines. Once, Belanov won the Ballon d’OrAnd who – in my opinion – apart from the fact that he ran fast, was not a great football player, but there was a political period of the warm image of Dynamo Kiev, so he was awarded the Golden Ball. It stays in history and lives for years. It is the pleasure of a football player.
I think if Robert Lewandowski takes second he can also enjoy it, although for me he is the favourite and he should win. However, if there have been no leaks from the Polish camp yet, and you know that everything likes to leak here, very quickly, it means that no one from France has called Robert yet.
Not touched for an interview?
– Not just this. There are many things to be agreed upon: When you arrive, we provide a camera operator to accompany you on your trip. Show behind the scenes an old base. However, to this day it has not yet happened.
You have a good memory. In 1986, Ihor Belanov from Dynamo Kiev, representing the USSR at that time, received the Ballon d’Or. He received 84 votes, ahead of Gary Lineker and Emilio Butragueno.
– We contributed to the second place for the Lineker.
Are you thinking of a hat-trick against Poland during the World Cup in Mexico?
– exactly. My friend Stefan Majowski was watching him in this match (laughs). These things happen.
Coming back to Robert Lewandowski, do you have a feeling this year is the last bell for him when it comes to winning the Ballon d’Or? At the age of 33, he breaks records and plays excellently, but the following years may not affect his interest.
– No, I wouldn’t change reality if it were. It must be said that Robert is walking on a downward slope. But I don’t see her today. I think Robert is at a high level all the time, plus he plays in a strong team and could score goals every week. In 60 per cent of matches, if not more, Bayern score three or more goals, primarily by attackers. It is logical. Added to this is the genius of Robert. He can score a goal in any way. Whether from a free kick, a shot from long range or from close range. Incredibly improved head game. This only shows that you can develop not only for a certain period, but throughout your career.
Next year we have the world championship and it will be difficult for Robert to win the Ballon d’Or, because this event will be taken into account. I wonder how the referendum organizers will approach that. In general, votes can be cast until the end of October. Meanwhile, the World Cup will run from November to December 18. Let’s imagine we give the 2022 Ballon d’Or to Player X, and soccer player Y will shine in the World Cup, who will win the World Championship and score nine goals, and he won’t even be in the top three in the poll.
This is a big problem and France Football has to take it into account. Just as he should discuss the formation of a class that will influence the choice of Player of the Year. Today, a journalist from a strange football country decides the fate of the Ballon d’Or. In general, as long as the journalists have to decide on this, it seems to me that we do not always choose the best players of the year. We can have an example for this year if Messi wins.
Indeed, the French will have a dilemma whether or not to postpone the referendum by two months to include the World Cup as well. Finally, I would like to ask you, do you believe in Robert Lewandowski’s plan, which promises to remain at an equally high level for up to five years, that is, up to 38?
– As a joke, I can say – let him stay until an advanced age, as long as he does not miss the most important matches of the Polish national team, such as the match against Hungary. If he needs a rest, he should leave the Bayern Munich matches (laughs). Seriously, it’s hard to judge. Robert is a multifaceted competitor and nature has endowed him with remarkable health. He did not suffer any serious injury. I don’t remember a long break with the ball, Lewandowski takes care of himself and his body. You can see that he is developing both mentally and physically.
However, talking about the game until the age of 38 does not make sense. Hope Robert is doing well too In March, he will qualify with the Polish national team for the World ChampionshipWhich will not be that easy. As the saying goes, let’s live “step by step”, day in and day out. It makes no sense to focus on what will happen in five years. Many different things can happen in such a long time.
Broadcaster: Michał Białoński, Interia
/Łukasz Grochala /Newspix
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