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English-Based Players Dominate UEFA Awards Shortlist

By | 22nd August 2008

Apparently the standard of English football, despite the travesty of the national team, is not going down. It is going up. The evidence is there for all to see. No fewer than 17 of the 20 nominees on UEFA’s list for Club Footballer of the Year are based in the English Premier League. Furthermore, seven nominees are English, making England the best represented nation on the shortlist, ahead of Spain (five). There were no players from Italy’s Serie A among the nominees.

The four Premier League clubs who dominated the tournament are well represented in the short-list. Beaten finalists Chelsea have five contenders on the list: goalkeeper Petr Cech, defender John Terry, midfielders Michael Essien and Frank Lampard, and striker Didier Drogba. Semi-finalists Liverpool have four nominees – Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, while quarter-finalists Arsenal are represented by goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Meanwhile, tournament winners Manchester United have six players nominated (more than any other club): forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, and midfielder Paul Scholes.

The only nominated players from outside England’s Premier League are Barcelona pair Carlos Puyol and Lionel Messi, plus German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer from Schalke.

The 20 players were chosen by a team of UEFA technical observers who watched each Champions League match last season. They selected five players in each category of goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers. The procedure is that votes will now be cast by coaches of the 16 teams who reached the knock-out phase of the 2007-08 Champions League. They will choose an overall UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and a winner in each position.

The winners will be announced next Thursday, August 28th, at the draw for the group stage of the 2008-09 Champions League in Monaco.

So what does this say about England? Well, it certainly doesn’t say the players aren’t good enough to deal with the premier of European competition.

Goalkeeper of the Year: Manuel Almunia (Arsenal), Petr Cech (Chelsea), Manuel Neuer (Schalke), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United).

Defender of the Year: Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona), John Terry (Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United).

Midfielder of the Year: Michael Essien (Chelsea), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Paul Scholes (Manchester United).

Forward of the Year: Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Fernando Torres (Liverpool).

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