Benjamin Pavard: World Cup ‘Goal of the Tournament’ Award
The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia saw some of the most stunning goals scored by superb strikers from various countries. The technically superior team of France ultimately defeated first-time finalist Croatia 4–2 in the battle for the World Cup in Moscow’s packed stadium.
After each World Cup’s culmination, the ‘goal of the tournament’ award is presented to the player through a public voting under FIFA’s supervision. Benjamin Pavard’s spinning right-foot half-volley shot flying into the top corner in the 57th-minute against Argentina won the top spot in 3 millions casted voted.
Juan Quintero and Luca Modric’s goals received the second and third highest votes respectively. Incidentally, Pavard scored his first-ever goal in the World Cup playing for France. Pavard’s goal was sheer brilliance of perfect timing by a striker.
Pavard revealed, “The ball bounced up as it came to me. I didn’t even think about it. I just tried to get over it and keep it down. I was trying to hit it in the direction it came from, which is what the strikers always tell me. I didn’t think it over, and when it went in I just felt so happy!”
Colombian striker Juan Quintero’s delightful low free-kick against Japan in the group-stage received the second highest votes. Croatian striker and Captain Luka Modric’s long-range stunner against Argentine in the group-stage received the third highest votes. As many as 18 goals, out of the total 169 goals scored in the entire World Cup, were selected by fans for the ‘Goal of the Tournament’ competition.
The ‘Goal of the Tournament’ award was constituted in the year 2006. Benjamin Pavard is the first European player to win the ‘Goal of the Tournament’ accolade, since its creation. For their outstanding goals Argentinian Maxi Rodriguez, Uruguayan Diego Forlan and Colombian James Rodriguez have received the prestigious ‘Goal of the Tournament’ award in 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups respectively.
The Journey of Success:
Benjamin Pavard was born in Maubeuge, France on the 28th of March 1996. At the age of 19, he made his career debut in Ligue 1 for Lille OSC against FC Nantes. On the 31st of January 2015, he played the full game.
Pavard signed a four-year contract with VfB Stuttgart on the 30th of August 2016. In his debut match in the 2.Bundesliga, he scored against SpVgg Greuther Furth in a 4–0 home win. Pavard made 21 appearances. VfB Stuttgart was the League Champions of the 2016–17 Season.
In the 2017–18 Season, Pavard made his Bundesliga debut on the 19th of August against Hertha BSC in a 2–0 loss. A little over two months, he went onto score his first goal against SC Freiburg in a 3–0 win. On the 20th of December 2017, Pavard extended his contract with Stuttgart till 30th of June 2021.
Before the appointment of Tayfun Korkut as Stuttgart’s new Manager, Pavard’s multifaceted talent made him play as right-back, centre-back, defensive midfielder and right-wing positions for his Club. In January 2018, Korkut fixed Pavard’s position exclusively as a centre-back. Stuttgart conceded 10 goals in 14 games to finish seventh place.
Call for the Nation:
France’ Head Coach Didier Deschamps called Pavard to join the National Team on the 6th of November 2017. Deschamps introduced energetic Pavard in friendly matches against Wales and Germany. His skills and playing style impressed the Coach, who called Pavard to join the 23-man French squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Pavard made his World Cup debut against Australia in a 2–1 win on the 16th of June 2018. 14 days later, he repaid his Coach’s trust and faith with his first-ever World Cup goal against Argentina in a 4–3 victory, in the round of 16. The long range shot from outside the penalty area ultimately fetched Pavard the ‘Goal of the Tournament’ award.
Pavard became the first French defender to score a goal in the World Cup. Lilian Thuram had scored against Croatia, in the 1998 semifinal. Pavard is indeed fortunate to have been selected for the National Team and win the first World Cup he played in. Coach Didier Deschamps has indeed groomed this brilliant youngster as a match winner.