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All Things Footie | Monday, December 2 | Jordan

A simple formula

It's that time of year again, a time for giving, for appreciating what we've got. After much searching and no luck finding the official list, I've turned to gambling. According to BlueSquare, the favourites for the coveted accolade of European Footballer of the Year (and their current odds, just for fun) are as follows:

I like the European Footballer of the Year award. Especially when compared to FIFA's World Player of the year, which — much like the World Cup in comparison to the European Championships — is more presigious but has far more participants that are included for inclusions sake.

There's a truly phenomenal selection of players there and it's a tricky choice this year. Unlike last year's ‘he scored a hat trick against Germany so we'll give it to him’ decision, there's many positives and negatives about every player on the list. Take the 2/1 favorite, Ronaldo. I've long been an admirer and was one of the few that tipped him for a great World Cup — which he had. For a month of the year they boy was unstoppable, outshining every other player on the planet. The only problem is, for the other 11 months he's made less of a contribution to football than your average fireman has to the art of diplomacy.

Roberto Carlos was excellent for Brazil in the World Cup, and has done well for Real Madrid too, though he's not really caught my eye. Isuspect he's selected for 2 reasons. He plays for European Champions Madrid and World Champions Brazil. A good enough reason I hear you cry, well maybe, but over the last year there have been better players in both teams as far as I'm concerned and being in the right place at the right time is not good enough.

There's no good reason for including Oliver Kahn apart from as the token keeper. He was second or third best at the World Cup (I thought Rustu was the most impressive) and his poor showing in the final was just as crucial to Germany's failure as David Seaman's bad luck was to England's.

Thierry Henry's World Cup is best forgotten and his stunning domestic and Champions League form no doubt key to his inclusion. The only problem with Henry for this award is that there's no facts and figures to back up the observation that he's the best footballer in Europe.

Real Madrid's Raul is almost the opposite, facts and figures will tell you he's as lethal as they come, and far more prolific at top club level than any other striker in Europe. There's very little to argue against Raul apart from his poor showing in the World Cup.

For me, Zinedine Zidane continues to be the most dazzling talent on display Worldwide. The year 2002 saw him score the Champions League's finest Final goal and on occasion, precociously (for someone who arrived at the World's most successful club less than a year before) run the show for the Club Champions of Europe. However much I admire him though, being injured for the World Cup and patchy La Liga form makes him a top tenner, but no more.

I've heard the name of Michael Ballack touted for this honour a number of times this past week. I can't help but think that such talk just doesn't make sense. Bayer Levekusen reached the Champions League Final because of a phenomenal team ethic and though Ballack was often the match winner, without Oliver Neuville, Carsten Ramelow and Ze Roberto they wouldn't have made the Second Phase. Likewise the World Cup. Germany's success was build on working together and surely Miroslav Klose did as much as Ballack to ensure the team's success.

I said it at the time and I'll say it again now, for his blatent, shameful, face holding nonsense, Rivaldo shouldn't even be up there.

For much the same reasons as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira is a tricky one to justify. He's the best midfielder in England, for his position he's the best in Europe (only Michael Ballack can really challenge). France's poor World Cup will cost his votes dear, though unlike Henry, I thought he did well individually in Japan/Korea, it was the rest of the side that was the problem.

Like all the other French players here a bad World Cup nearly always signals no chance in this competition, David Trezeguet has got the talent but proven very little so far in his career. He has time though and I for one rate him very highly.

So what will happen?

It's a simple formula, good World Cup = European Footballer of the Year. Despite sitting on his arse for 11 months, I'd be very surprised if Ronaldo didn't take the award, if by some fluke he doesn't then it's Michael Ballack's.

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