ENGLAND’S lowly standing in world football was underlined yesterday when Three Lions players again failed to make the 23-man longlist for the Ballon d’Or award for the year’s best player.
It is the second successive year in which no Englishman has been nominated – a far cry from heady 2009, when Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and John Terry made the cut.
Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale is the only Briton in contention for the gong, to be announced in December, with his club colleague Cristiano Ronaldo favourite to win.
Former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was omitted despite his superb season because the Uruguay star incurred a four-month ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.
Chelsea provide three of the Premier League’s five representatives in Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois, although the latter two players are included on the basis of spells at Atletico Madrid.
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure is among the 23, as is Manchester United’s £60m British record signing Angel di Maria, who helped Argentina reach the summer’s World Cup final. Di Maria’s former club Real and German champions Bayern Munich are the best represented teams with six nominees apiece, while Barcelona boast four, despite the absence of Suarez.
Stamford Bridge manager Jose Mourinho is among the 10 contenders for the coach of the year prize, along with United’s Luis van Gaal and City’s Manuel Pellegrini.
Ballon d’Or initial longlist
Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Diego Costa*, Thibaut Courtois*, Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria***, Mario Gotze, Eden Hazard*, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andres Iniesta, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Neymar, Paul Pogba, Sergio Ramos, Arjen Robben, James Rodriguez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Yaya Toure**
*** Manchester United