World’s Best

January 28, 2014

WEBWATCH: Ken Masters

It is around this time of year that FIFA present annual awards to the very best in football. Nominations in, votes cast and winners announced on the net around the world. Goal scoring machine Lionel Messi of Barcelona was again in the running along with Frank Ribery of Bayern Munich to lift the coveted Ballon d’Or but this time around it was the turn of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Real Madrid and former Manchester United player, now the Portugal captain, was named world player of the year for the first time since 2008 by national coaches, captains and journalists. Ronaldo’s response was predictable perhaps:

It is a tremendously emotional moment”

“First of all, I have to say a great thanks to all of my team-mates with the club and the national team,” Ronaldo said as he cried during his speech.

Ronaldo claimed the award with a total of 1,365 points, ahead of Messi (1,205) and Ribery (1,127), with the votes cast by 184 coaches, 184 national captains and 173 members of the global media. Guess what! Neither Ronaldo or Messi voted for the other in any of their top three places. Ronaldo selected Radamel Falcao for first place, followed by Gareth Bale and Mesut Ozil, while Messi opted for Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Neymar. Out of interest, England manager Roy Hodgson chose Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robin van Persie as his top three, while captain Steven Gerrard picked Ronaldo, Messi and Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez.

Messi, 26, had won the award for the last four years, but Ronaldo had been viewed as the front-runner this time after scoring 66 goals in 56 games in 2013 for club and country. They included a sensational hat-trick for Portugal against Sweden in their World Cup qualifying play-off second leg, which sealed a place in the finals in Brazil; fair play but just don’t go around crying about it.

Let’s move on, Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was named best women’s player, while former Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes picked up the coach of the year accolade and Germany manager Silvia Neid claimed the women’s award.

Here is the full list of Fifa award winners this time around:

  • Ballon d’Or: Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Women’s world player: Nadine Angerer

  • Male coach: Jupp Heynckes

  • Female coach: Silvia Neid

  • Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur: Pele

  • Puskas goal award: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden v England)

  • Fifa Presidential Award: Jacques Rogge

  • Fair Play Award: Afghanistan Football Federation

Angerer, 35, saved two penalties in Germany’s 1-0 win over Norway in the 2013 European Championship final and was named player of the match. This from BBC sport:

“I have to say that I’m a little surprised, but very thankful,” the Brisbane Roar goalkeeper said. “You never get a success like this on your own. I have to thank my team-mates and my goalkeeping coach who raised me to a level that I never thought I’d get to.”

Very well said and not a tear in sight!

Heynckes, who retired at the end of the last season after guiding Bayern Munich to a historic treble, said he was “humbled and happy” to have won his award; very well said Jupp.

The Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur was awarded to Brazil legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele and even he got a bit close to it, crying that is.

“I promised to my family that I would not cry but I am emotional,” he said. That’s ok then, no tears as such, had me worried for a moment but I have to say that no one deserves the top award more than Pele.

The Puskas Award for goal of the year went to Ibrahimovic for his 30-yard overhead strike for Sweden, his fourth goal of the game, against England no less. For younger readers, Puskas was a great player and goal scorer for Hungary in the fifties.

The Afghanistan Football Federation won the fair play accolade for the strides they have made advancing the game in the war-torn country. I have a great deal of sympathy with this. Football can be and is a great force for good in the world. Let us all hope that football and other sports prevail in Afghanistan in the months and years to come.

What of the 11 players named in team of the year; sad to say not a Brit or even a Premier League player in site. Five British players were named on a long list for the team, which is chosen by 50,000 professional footballers from across the world. But England defenders Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole, midfielder Steven Gerrard, striker Wayne Rooney and Wales forward Gareth Bale all missed out.

Rooney and Manchester United colleague Nemanja Vidic were the last Premier League players to be named in a Fifa team of the year, back in 2011. Is it the best League in the world then? We very much like to think so but it seems that the world’s best are giving it a miss.

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