Rooney’s flying the flag

With Wayne Rooney the only Englishman named in the 23 strong list for FIFA’s player of the year competition, is it another sign of how the national team is competing, and the standard of English players compared to those from around the world?

When you look at the list there are only five players from the Premier league with the majority of the list being made up of players from La Liga, and seven players from the Spanish national team mentioned.

The Premier league is always called the best league in the world, but when you look at the players nominated to win the player of the year competition, surely it is the Spanish division that now has that mantle?

Arguably the two best players in the world Messi and Ronaldo play in La LIga. And they are two players who have won the Ballon d’Or on four occasions between them, with Messi taking the prize for the last three years and chasing an unprecedented fourth title, whilst Ronaldo is after his second title, claiming his first in 2008.

You have to go back to 2005 for the last time that an Englishman fared well when competing for the illustrious title, with Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard finishing first and second respectively. While you have to go back to 2001 for the last time an Englishman won the coveted title, when Michael Owen claimed the prize, when he was playing for Liverpool. Before him you have to go back over two decades to Kevin Keegan who won the title two years running in 1978,79.

Even with Chelsea winning the Champions League this season they only had one player who was nominated Didier Drogba, who has since left for Shanghai Shenua. With the likes of Ashley Cole, John Terry and Frank Lampard in the squad they still wasn’t mentioned on the shortlist, showing that winning the biggest club competition doesn’t mean that they automatically get put forward.

When looking at the list of players mentioned it is clear to see that the current bunch of English players playing at the highest level aren’t on par with the foreign crop of players plying their trade in the domestic leagues.

Lampard and Gerrard are past their best now, when they was close to winning the title, and with England now currently trying to bring through a new group of young players, it is clear to see that they are not up to the standard of the likes of Mesut Ozil, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, three players that are playing for two of the biggest teams in the world.

Rooney seems to be flying the flag alone for English football currently, with a lot of pressure on his shoulders to show the maturity to help bring through the young players as well as trying to lead the national team to victory in every game.

He fully deserves his place on the list of 23 after a fantastic season for Manchester United, and hopefully one day he will able to compete with Messi’s and Ronaldo’s of the world and win the Ballon d’Or.

Joe Aird