Men's Team

City's Ballon D'or nominees: #2 Ruben Dias

Ruben Dias is one of five City players to have made the 30-man shortlist for the prestigious 2021 men’s Ballon d’Or award.

The pinnacle of individual football awards, the prize has been exclusively shared between Barcelona and Real Madrid players for the past 11 years, with Lionel Messi winning it six times, Cristiano Ronaldo four and Luka Modric once.

This year Dias, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez have all been nominated in the men’s category.

Based on achievements during the last calendar year, we have run the rule over Dias’s achievements and impact for this year’s consideration.

2021 HIGHLIGHTS

Having joined City from Benfica in late September 2020, the Portuguese central defender made an instant and impressive impact.

Thanks to his defensive acumen, technical quality and winning mentality, Dias established himself as a pivotal figure in Pep Guardiola’s back-line.

As Guardiola’s squad embarked on a remarkable sequence of results over the course of the 2020/21 campaign, breaking record upon record, City’s defence arguably served as the backbone behind those historic achievements.

And Dias was a veritable rock at the heart of that City backline.

A talismanic figure, Dias also formed a formidable central defensive partnership alongside John Stones, and helped City created a raft of records in what was a record-breaking 2020/21 season.

Dias was a mainstay as City created a notable domestic first in January, becoming the first English club to record nine victories in a calendar month.

Alongside his magnificent defensive work, Dias registered his first goal for the Club in February’s crucial 2-1 Premier League victory over West Ham at the Etihad.

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And in April he celebrated winning his first piece of silverware with City, being part of the side that defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at Wembley as we won a fourth successive Carabao Cup.

His desire and winning mentality were further emphasised with a colossal man-of-the-match display in our 2-0 Champions League semi-final second leg victory over Paris Saint-Germain in May as City reached the showpiece final for the first time.

It was also fitting that Dias was out on the field as City celebrated lifting the Premier League title in late May – fittingly enough with another clean sheet against Everton.

Dias was subsequently named in the starting XI for the Champions League final, which Chelsea edged 1-0.

Ruben’s extraordinary Etihad impact was recognised by those most demanding of critics, England’s press pack, with the Football Writers’ Association voting Dias as their 2021 Footballer of the Year.

It said everything about the scale of the achievement that Dias was the first defender to win the award since Steve Nicol back in 1989 and only the third player to win the FWA award in their first season in England, following Jurgen Klinsmann (1995) and Gianfranco Zola (1997).

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Further individual plaudits followed in the shape of the Premier League Player of the Season and Etihad Player of the Season awards with Dias chalking up 50 appearances all told.

Having starred for Portugal at the EURO 2020 tournament in the summer, Dias then further committed his long-term future to City by signing a new six-year contract in August of this year.

“Playing for City has surpassed all my expectations and it’s an absolute pleasure to be part of such an incredible squad,” Ruben declared.

As the 2021/22 season got under way, Dias simply carried on from where he had left off with his presence a reassuring bulwark at the heart of the City backline.

His impact was further reinforced with the fact that Dias was appointed into City’s senior leadership group by the rest of his colleagues.

Another prestigious award came in the form of Dias winning the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League Defender of the Season crown.

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And the 24-year-old then had the huge honour of skippering City for the first time in our 6-3 Champions League group win over Leipzig in September.

A leader in ever sense of the word, Dias continues to go from strength to strength.

2021 IN NUMBERS – ALL COMPETITIONS

Matches played: 48

Minutes played: 3990

Goals: 1

Clean sheets: 24

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