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“We are honored to be part of the media jury of the Total Player Award 2021 and would like to introduce our top-5 players to you.”
Here are they TOP 5 pick for both categories
1. Ashleigh Jonhson (USA)
USA National Player | Clubs: Ethnikos | Position: GoalkeeperThe only real specialist in water polo is the goalkeeper. Ashleigh Johnson stands alone in that regard. How talented and trained she is! We continue to admire her technique. How high she jumps (are those her knees?), how far her reach is… That is unparalleled. With her skin color she also fulfill an important social role outside the water. And that role also fits her perfectly authentically. Oh yes, she also won gold with the United States at the Olympics, but that shouldn't come as a surprise.
2. Simone van de Kraats (NED)
Dutch National Player | Clubs: Polar Bears / CN Mataro | Position: Right DriverDutch pride! Simone van de Kraats became the top scorer in Tokyo with 28 goals and an average of 4 goals per game. Van de Kraats converted 62.2% of all her shots into a goal. Those are impressive numbers for the only 21-year-old lefty. Even before the Olympics, she earned a nice transfer to the Spanish CN Mataro. In her own words: that was the right moment after all those years of growth in the Netherlands. It set her mind free in Tokyo where – especially from her beloved right wing – there was no limit to her. All the opponents' goalies had no chance when Van de Kraats prepared for a shot.
3. Maggie Steffens (USA)
US National Player | Club: CN Sabadell | Position: Left DriverTotal Waterpolo named Maggy Steffens last year already the best player of this century and there is no doubt in giving her another nomination. After all these years she still belongs to the absolute top. In Tokyo she won her third Olympic gold, but she is the last person to brag about herself. In our magazine ManMeer! she once said: “Water polo is a team sport. I cannot achieve these successes without my team. If my team plays well, then I can play well myself.” It characterizes the wonderful person Steffens.
4. Bea Ortiz (ESP)
Spanish National Player | Clubs: CN Terassa | Position: Left DriverEvery coach wishes a Bea Ortiz on his team. Ortiz is an extremely complete player and the main pillar of the Spanish team. She proved that again in Tokyo, where she shared the second place in the top scorer standings, but also stood out with her large number of effective blocks and many assists. It eventually led to the silver medal. It made her country proud again after the disappointment in Rio when Spain was already eliminated in the quarter-finals.
5. Rita Keszthelyi (HUN)
Hungarian National Player | Clubs: UVSE | Position: Left DriverAfter 2008, 2012 and 2016, Hungary played in Tokyo for the fourth time in a row for the bronze Olympic medal. All previous times they failed, but in the Japanese capital this great water polo country finally managed to win an Olympic medal among the women. We dare to say that this would not have been possible without Rita Keszthelyi. She has been the stable factor of the Magyars for years. She is fast, agile and has fantastic insight. This makes her a plague for every opponent.
1. Aleksandar Ivovic (MNE)
Montenegrin National Player | Clubs: Pro Recco | Position: DriverDespite his relatively high age (35), Ivovic continues to amaze us. For years he has been one of the best players in the world. He can handle any position. As a center-back, with wrists like logs, he is rock solid, but his attacking power is also deadly. Montenegro 'only' came to the eighth place in Tokyo, but Ivovic was the top scorer of the tournament with 23 goals. An absolute leader for his country and club.
2. Filip Filipovic (SRB)
Serbian National Player | Clubs: Szolnok / Olympiacos | Position: Right DriverFilipovic, of course, needs no further introduction. What a top-player! Lefthanders always have something extra and that can certainly be said about this glutton. He ended his international career in Tokyo in the most beautiful way: gold! In the semi-final against Spain, he excelled. With 26 seconds left, he fired a free ball from outside the six meters with his golden left arm through a sea of arms: the winning 10-9. A hero for many water polo enthusiasts.
3. Alvaro Granados (ESP)
Spanish National Player | Clubs: Barceloneta | Position: Left DriverAs far as we are concerned, the player of the future. Only 23 years old and already so decisive for his country. Felipe Perrone (who should not be missing in this top-5, but hey we have to choose!) will have a worthy successor with him. Granados shows that you don't have to be a heavyweight to be one of the best water polo players in the world. Creativity and dexterity can withstand the absolute power water polo. As long as your name is Alvaro Granados.
4. Angelos Vlachopoulos (GRE)
Greek National Player | Clubs: Olympiacos | Position: DriverAchieved a unique result in Tokyo with 'his' Greece by winning the silver medal. A surprising achievement, but above all well deserved. Because Greece has shown for years that it has enormous water polo talent and Vlachopoulos is the best embodiment of this in our view. As a left-driver he is an excellent blocker and a master of giving the best assists. But if he has the right chance to score for himself, he does not hesitate to let the goalkeeper gasp for breath.
5. Dusan Mandic (SRB)
Serbian National Player | Clubs: Pro Recco / Novi Beograd | Position: Right DriverHear hear! Filipovic can safely hang up his Serbian swimming trunks. Of course we would have liked to see Mandic and Filipovic playing together for years to come, but Mandic is the true heir to the throne as far as we're concerned. The lefthander has been able to learn water polo from the very best in our sport. 2021 was perhaps the best year of his career holding Olympic gold and winning the Champions League with Pro Recco. And in both competitions, he was one of the most defining players.
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