Barcelona and Argentina megastar Lionel Messi has tonight been named as FIFA World Player of the Year for the fourth consecutive year. The Ballon d’Or announcement was made earlier this evening in Zurich and surprised absolutely nobody.
FIFA’s glitzy shindig featured such football luminaries as Ruud Gullit, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Valderrama, Ronaldo and Hope Solo, and culminated in the announcement of Messi’s fourth golden ball. In the aftermath of these events FIFA released the votes made by the captains and managers of the world’s national teams, each of whom ranks his top three players.
For England, that means Steven Gerrard and Roy Hodgson. The Liverpool and England skipper had the Argentina icon as his highest pick, followed by Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mate – a former colleague of Gerrard’s – Xabi Alonso.
Hodgson went for the same top two, but selected Colombian striker Radamel Falcao in third. Falcao had earlier missed out on the FIFA Puskas Award, which was won by Fenerbahce’s Miroslav Stoch. Falcao’s brilliant volley had the edge for me, but I don’t get a vote.
Of course, these things are always open to some wonderful Eurovision-style votes, and we can laugh at them now that the right winner – in my opinion, naturally – has been rewarded.
Some examples: Karim Benzema was voted in first by Algerian captain Madjid Bougherra; Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo of Juventus were voted in first and second by Mirko Vucinic…of Juventus; Wesley Sneijder’s top selection was Robin van Persie; Iker Casillas voted for Sergio Ramos, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo; Vicente del Bosque picked Iker Casillas, Xavi and Andres Iniesta – it’s all good fun.
For the record, England’s Wayne Rooney got one solitary vote in first place (from Georgia captain Jaba Kankava), three in second place (Bahamas captain Lesly St Fleur, Lithuania skipper Tomas Danilevicius and North Korea coach Yun Jong Su) and four in third place (from Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan, Mauritius captain Colin Bell, Cambodia coach Hok Sochetra and journalist David Monsuy of Equatorial Guinea).
England’s media was represented by Henry Winter of The Telegraph, who voted thus: 1. Cristiano Ronaldo; 2. Lionel Messi; 3. Andres Iniesta.
(Photo credit: globalite via Flickr)
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