Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: Ballon is no longer in England’s court

Michael Owen was the last one to win it, in 2001, but there has always been, until now, at least one Englishman on the short list to receive the Ballon d’Or since 1995: official recognition of the ‘world’s best player’.

Indeed, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have both been listed for the last six years but they’re amongst the absentees this time around: as is Wayne Rooney. Perhaps it’s due to that abysmal World Cup campaign. It would have been hard for any of those charged with making nominations to forget that.

But, maybe it’s simple recognition that the Premier League in England is not quite as good as it thinks it is or is made out to be. After all, there are only three nominees that ply their trade in these parts: Drogba, Fabregas and Gyan, the latter only counted because of his summer move to Sunderland.

Don’t get me wrong: generally, I love watching my football in England because of the pace and the excitement. But how much of the drama is provoked by woeful defending? Yes, the ‘Ballon’ list is a timely reminder.

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