The midfielder follows in the footsteps of Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Isco and João Félix in bringing the prestigious prize to Spain.
FC Barcelona’s 18-year-old midfielder Pedri has won the 2021 Golden Boy award, the prize given out by Tuttosport each year to the best Europe-based player under the age of 21. Not only has Pedri won the 19th edition of the award, but he claimed top spot by a distance as he collected 318 votes, a full 199 more than second-placed Jude Bellingham, who received 119 votes. Never in the history of the Golden Boy award had there been such a distance between first and second.
Of the 40 journalists who formed the jury, 38 had Pedri on their podium, with 26 placing him top, nine naming him second and three putting him third. This means Pedri is the new Golden Boy of European football, succeeding Erling Haaland, who won the prize last year.
“I thank Tuttosport for this trophy, which makes me proud, and I also thank all the members of the jury and the fans who have always supported me in what has been an incredible 2021 for me,” Pedri stated in a video message shared by the Italian newspaper. “Of course, I also thank FC Barcelona, the Spanish national team, my family, my friends and all those who have been close to me day after day. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to win the Golden Boy award.”
He’ll receive his trophy at a ceremony in Turin on December 13th, which will be just the latest individual prize for the Canary Islander who was also named the Young Player of the Tournament for his exploits at Euro 2020 in the summer, when he helped the Spanish national team to reach the semi-finals.
Including national team games for the senior Spain squad and their Tokyo Olympics team, Pedri played 73 matches last season in what was his first year in top-fight football. He quickly earned a starting spot in Barça’s midfield, becoming undroppable for Ronald Koeman.
But, as FC Barcelona put it in a message congratulating their player: “It’s not just quantity, it’s also the quality. Delightful passing, exquisite dribbling, magnificent positioning, magical combinations, quick decisions, goals and defensive work, this player has it all.”
Furthermore, UD Las Palmas are also proud of a player who grew up in their Academy. A meteoric progression, of course (he joined their Academy in the summer of 2018, and a year later he was already playing for the first team, coinciding with the announcement of his signing for FC Barcelona): “Of course, we’re incredibly proud that a player forged here in our youth academy has won this prestigious award. And at the same time, it serves as a great incentive for future generations here in our academy to emulate his example”, says Manuel Rodríguez ‘Tonono’, UD Las Palmas Director of Development and Recruitment.
The fifth LaLiga Santander winner of the Golden Boy
When looking at the list of winners over the previous 18 editions of the Golden Boy award, Pedri is in esteemed company. He is also in the company of several other current and former LaLiga Santander talents, as Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Isco and João Félix all won this prize previously while playing for FC Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Málaga CF and Atlético respectively.
This sees LaLiga Santander close in further on the Premier League in the Golden Boy leaderboard, with the English top flight still on six winners and without a player bringing the gong to England since Anthony Martial in 2015. LaLiga Santander is second in the ranking of leagues with its five winners -two of the last three-, ahead of the Bundesliga (three), Serie A (two), Eredivisie (two) and Ligue 1 (one).
Even some of the players who won the Golden Boy prize while playing for non-Spanish clubs have gone on to spend some time in LaLiga Santander, as was the case with Rafael van der Vaart, Cesc Fàbregas and Alexandre Pato.
Pedri follows in some talented footsteps by picking up this year’s award and he has done so with a record gap to the second-placed candidate. Even though he is just 18 years of age, Pedri has already proclaimed himself the best U21 player on the continent.