The final shortlist for the Ballon D’or award has been announced. The previous shortlist, which featured 23 players, only one of whom was British, was cut down to the remaining three by a committee of football experts from both FIFA and France Football.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer are the final selections to win world football’s most prestigious individual award, which has previously been won, prior to the awards from both organisations being joined together, by superstars such as Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho, and they will now each be hoping that they have done enough previously to win the award.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping that he can retain the trophy this year, having snatched it from Messi, who until that point had won the title for the previous three years.
Manuel Neuer may be considered the outsider in this, and would be only the second goalkeeper to win the coveted award, with the previous winner in that position being Lev Yashin, in 1963. However, he is coming off the back of a spectacular year, winning the domestic double with Bayern Munich, before going on to win the World Cup in Brazil, and earning himself the Golden Glove in the process.
The Coach of the Year award has also had it’s final three candidates announced, with Germany’s Joachim Low, Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone, who lead his club to their first La Liga title since 1996, and to the final of the UEFA Champions League, all still in the running.
The trio selected for the Puskas Award for best goal have also been selected, with James Rodriguez’s stunner for Colombia in their 2-0 victory against Uruguay in the World Cup last 16, Robin van Persie’s wonderful header against Spain in the same competition’s group stages, and Irish women’s footballer Stephanie Roche’s fantastic strike for Peamount United against Wexford Youth last October being the possible incumbents.
Roche will, possibly, feel hard done by not to also be in the running to win the Women’s Player of the Year award, with five time winner Marta (Brazil), European player of the year Nadine Kessler (Germany) and American all time record goalscorer Abby Wambach who previously won the award in 2012.
This has capped a fantastic year for women’s football, which has seen the sport finally manage to come out from the shadow of it’s better known counterpart, and could be a springboard for the sport to enjoy even greater success in the future.
The award ceremony takes place in Zurich on January 12.