Every year UEFA nominates the best players in club football in Europe with the final awards presented on the eve of the end-of-August UEFA Super Cup. Last year we saw AC Milan’s Kaka, Maldini and Seedorf take the plaudits with Petr Cech rounding off the four and in the process denying Milan a clean sweep.
This year we see a strong England-based presence with 3 of 4 semi-finalists being from England in the Champions League last season and both Chelsea and Manchester United with a good chance of taking all the awards on offer. Here are the nominees:
UEFA 2008 Goalkeeper of the Year
Manuel Almunia (Arsenal)
Manuel Neuer (Schalke 04)
Petr Cech (Chelsea)
Pepe Reina (Liverpool)
Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United)
UEFA 2008 Defender of the Year
Jamie Carragher (Liverpool)
Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)
Carlos Puyol (Barcelona)
John Terry (Chelsea)
Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
UEFA 2008 Midfielder of the Year
Michael Essien (Chelsea)
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
UEFA 2008 Forward of the Year
Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
At least one (two, if you consider the most valuable player category) award is nailed on – Ronaldo will be declared forward of year. That leaves us with the keeping, defence and midfield awards.
I doubt anyone other than Cech and van der Sar winning it, and while you could discuss his jittery moments to death, van der Sar is one of the main reasons United were able to get to the final. And of course, when it counted, he save the penalty to win the club the Champions League. It’s close between those two so that last bit might tip it in EVDS’ favor.
In defence it’s again Chelsea v United and this time Terry v Ferdinand. This isn’t a ‘role model’ debate, but in terms of pure impact the two are probably neck-to-neck – Terry made a crucial save in the final while Ferdinand was the rock United built on all season. Terry’s miss in the final – loss of composure at a key moment – could count against him. In all honesty there’s nothing to choose between the two so bias will win it in the end.
In midfield it’s much more open, although Fabregas, Gerrard and Essien either didn’t have the same impact or didn’t take their team as far as Lampard and Scholes, so for it’d be between those two. I’d like to give it to Scholes for the goal against Barcelona but Lampard has been amazing for Chelsea all season, Europe and league, a fact forgotten by the media, English fans and all Chelsea-haters. He’s been fantastic, and he just might pip Scholes to this one.
Your picks? Comments are welcome.