Andres Iniesta of Barcelona and Spain: The best of them all.
With the just-released listing of nominees for the world footballer of the year, it was not a surprise to see Spanish players dominate it.
While I agree with most of the names listed, it should be a three-way fight among the following: Xavi and Andres Iniesta, both of whom are Spanish, and the Dutchman Wesley Sneijder.
For various reasons these three stood out from the rest of the pack.
Xavi and Iniesta share a lot in common that makes it difficult to distinguish them. Both players complement and enrich the other in intangible ways. They are both playmakers with fantastic ball control and vision. These soccer blood brothers are the heartbeat of both their club, Barcelona and the Spanish national team.
Although they are both midfielders, Andres is more of a tireless, skillful, midfield dynamo who scored the winning goal at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa for Spain. In addition, he has won many vital games in the past for both club and country.
Xavi, on the other hand, is a central midfield maestro. He is an artist who distributes the ball with deadly precision to strikers in advantageous positions to score. Sir Alex Ferguson once said that he rarely, if ever, makes a bad pass and seems to have the ball glued to his feet.
Wesley did more than any other Inter Milan player to win the treble for his club this past football season—Champions League, Italian league (the Scudetto) and the Italian Cup.
What makes him a gem to behold is that he combines the best of both Iniesta’s attacking abilities and Xavi’s hypnotic ball movement with great shooting ability. His battling spirit reminds one of the great Roy Keane during his heydays at Manchester United. At times, he does seem to get a little too committed to the course and can be a touch rough.
So, it is hard to pick one out, as they all share great vision and have well-rounded footballer instincts. However, though it may be controversial, I pick Iniesta by virtue of the fact that he scored the winning goal that made Spain world soccer champions for the first in her history.
Lastly, coach of the year is easy because Vicente del Bosque of Spain won the World Cup, with Jose Mourinho coming a close second. The Portuguese had a magician’s touch at Inter last season by winning all the big ones. However, the World Cup outranks every other competition in the soccer universe.