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Ibrahimovic claims sixth consecutive title

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrated his sixth straight league title as Inter Milan claimed their fourth consecutive Serie A crown on Saturday thanks to title rivals AC Milan's loss to Udinese.

Ibrahimovic claims sixth consecutive title

Inter, and goal king Ibrahimovic, will meet Siena at the San Siro on Sunday evening in the knowledge that Lo Scudetto is theirs once more.

The confirmation of the success will surprise few however as Inter have dominated the Italian top flight for the entire season. But Milan had put up some resistance of late and their 2-1 loss away to Udinese will be seen as something of a shock.

Aside from the three wins with Inter, Ibrahimovic has also claimed titles with Juventus in 2005 and 2006, and Ajax in 2004 and 2002. Juventus was however then stripped of the titles won in 2005 and 2006 (when Inter were instead declared champions) following the conviction of the club’s sporting director Luciano Moggi for fixing results.

If recent rumours carry substance then the 2008/2009 title success may be “Ibra’s” last with Inter however. The Local reported on April 25th that Ibrahimovic had expressed a desire to seek pastures new after his years of unparalleled success in Italy.

“I won everything in Italy, I learnt a lot from Italy. But there is a moment in your life, like when I was at Ajax, when you say to yourself you want to try something new,” explained Ibrahimovic in an interview with Eurosport broadcast in April.

Ibrahimovic’s comment were not received warmly by many of the Inter fans who demanded a meeting with their star striker to clear the air.

The Swedish star has in the spring been linked with a slew of Europe’s top clubs as he seeks to add European Champions League success to his collection of Dutch and Italian domestic titles.

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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