Gabriel Jesus and Danilo made history at last night’s annual award ceremony held by the Brazilian Football Confederation. Gabriel Jesus, 19-year-old star forward of the national league champion team Palmeiras, took home Player of the Year. Chapecoense goalkeeper Danilo, who died in last month’s tragic plane crash, won the posthumous Popular Choice award.
The first Palmeiras player to win the Player of the Year award in over 20 years, Gabriel Jesus will be leaving Brazil next season to start with Manchester City. Gabriel Jesus also won ESPN’s “Golden Ball” award. Eight other Palmeiras players made it to the annual “Brasileirão” star line-up, in addition to the team’s coach.
A Nation in Mourning
Danilo’s mother, named in the media as Miss Ilaídes, accepted the award in his honor to a standing ovation. Miss Ilaídes became a symbol of national solidarity following the tragic plane crash when she hugged a sports reporter to console him on live television. A social media campaign rallied in support of the Chapecoense goalkeeper. Following the accident, Danilo went up from 12th place with 1.6 million votes. The late Chapecoense player won 47 percent of the votes.
At 31 years old, Danilo’s football career had only just kicked off. Brazilian football fans knew the humble goalkeeper for his superstitious pre-game rituals, and even more so for his legendary save in the Copa Sudamerica semifinals.