While I wouldn’t say Rooney was a surprise choice for this year’s long list, I’m not sure he’s a deserving one. He has consistently delivered on the field but he hasn’t really sparkled on anything like the level he’d need to be considered one of the best 23 players in the world this year. Then again, the list itself is full of such players.
He is, of course, the only Englishman on the list of 23. The Premier League is also represented by Sergio Aguero of Manchester City, Nani of Manchester United and Luis Suarez of Liverpool. The long list becomes a shortlist of three on December 5th, and then Lionel Messi will (presumably) pick up the award once again in Zurich in January.
The FIFA Ballon d’Or was inaugurated in 2010 by the merger of France Football magazine’s famous Ballon d’Or award and the FIFA World Player of the Year. England has had no winners of the latter (Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer have third, while David Beckham and Frank Lampard have been awarded second twice and once respectively), but the Ballon d’Or has been won by Stanley Mathews – the first winner – as well as Bobby Charlton, Kevin Keegan and Michael Owen.