At the end of the day, there were plenty of great goals on the shortlist for this year's UEFA Goal of the Season Award. Arguably our favorite-a stunning bicycle kick from FC Metalist midfielder Vasyl Kobin in a Europa League match against Legia Warsaw-came in sixth, with only 4% of the vote. Ultimately, though, the combination of Messi's fame and popularity, as well as Barcelona's remarkable 2014 2015 season, made him the obvious winner. (Messi's teammate, goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, won the Save of the Season Award on the same day.)

Shop for Barcelona Kit

The Goal

While Messi's fame and name recognition probably got him at least a fair percentage of his votes, there is no doubt that the goal for which he won UEFA's Goal of the Season Award truly was impressive.

After all, when Barcelona and Bayern Munich were drawn against one another for the Champions League group stage, most expected a fiercely competitive round. Barcelona may have been in the middle of their best season in years-and had the unstoppable frontline of Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez on their side-but Bayern Munich had won the Champions League more recently (in 2012 2013), and had crushed Barcelona in the semis to get there.

Bayern Munich did end up putting up a fight against Barcelona in the semis, but it didn't look like it from Barcelona Away Shirt 2015 - 2016the score of the first leg. The soccer match, played at Barca's Camp Nou, ended 3-0 in favor of the home team, but all three of those goals-including two from Messi himself-came in the final 20 minutes of the match.

It wasn't until the 77th minute of the game that Messi finally broke past the Bayern defense (and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer) to give his football squad a 1-0 lead. Three minutes later, he made that lead a two-pointer, with the point that ultimately won him the UEFA Goal of the Season Award.

Even watching this goal divorced from the context, stakes, and tension of the Champions League semifinal, it's evidence enough to label Messi as the greatest football player in the world. More or less alone in a cloud of four Bayern defenders, Lionel never looks anything less than in control. His footwork as he slips by Jerome Boateng-his closest defender-is impressive enough as is, but the way he then blasts the ball effortlessly past Manuel Neuer, frequently praised as the world's greatest goalkeeper, is nothing short of breathtaking.

A Vital Moment

This goal was also a vital moment in Barca's 2014 2015 Champions League success. By shifting the momentum completely in Barcelona's favor, the goal helped propel Neymar's last-minute goal to give the Spanish soccer champions a 3-0 win over Bayern in the first leg of the semifinals.

Barca would need that aggregate lead in the second match, when two more goals from Neymar weren't enough to beat a go-for-broke second half from the Bavarians. Bayern won the second leg 3-2, but thanks to Messi's performance in the first leg, Barcelona still won the round on an aggregate of 5-3.

Do you think Leo was a deserving winner of the (inaugural) UEFA Save of the Season Award? Celebrate the Argentine soccer star today, with a brand new Lionel Messi Barca jersey 2015 2016 from the Soccer Box store!