THE first thing to be said about the FIFA awards is that it’s clear it’s time now to inaugurate a new honour to go alongside the Ballon d’Or, the Ferenc Puskas gong and all the rest.
We’ve long since been familiar with the concept of the Golden Boot so let’s call the new one the Glass Slipper, in honour of the Cinderella at the Zurich ball, Matty Burrows.
Burrows, you should all be aware by now, is the Glentoran man who found himself vying for the goal of the year award with some of the most stellar names in world football.
In the end, the public voted for Hamit Altintop’s volley for Turkey in a European Championship qualifier against Kazakhstan, a thunderous effort to be sure but still only a superior version of the kind of strike we see from time to time on the football pitch.
Burrow’s goal, by contrast, was literally without precedent: a twisting, acrobatic, back-heel volley – with both feet off the ground – which flew over the head of Portadown’s ‘keeper and into the back of the net from fully fifteen yards out. It’s already a You Tube sensation and, if you suspect it sounds like a bit of a fluke, have a look at the video evidence and be prepared to have your cynicism obliterated.
FIFA broke with historical precedent – by which the player of the year in a World Cup year is usually drawn from the winning team – and handed the Ballon d’Or to Lionel Messi for the second year in succession.
No complaints there. He might not have dominated the World Cup finals in 2010 as his compatriot Maradona did in 1986 but Messi is now so far above the rest of the competition as to be almost on another planet.
It follows, of course, that he takes up a position in the best XI of 2010, as voted by some 50,000 professional footballers. Iker Casillas is between the posts behind a formidable back four of Maicon, Lucio, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol. Midfield is Wesley Sneijder, Xavi and Iniesta while the attacking front three comprises Lionel Messi, David Villa and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Given that it reflects the balance of power in 2010, it’s hard to pick faults in a line-up dominated by Spain/Barcelona and Inter Milan but I feel duty-bound to point out that, along with the likes of Drogba, Rooney and Gerrard, Ronaldo was one of those glittering names who failed to shine in South Africa.
It’s a pity that Germany’s thrilling football in that tournament could not be rewarded with a place in the best eleven for their gifted young playmaker Mesut Ozil while there’s surely also a strong argument for making room in the line-up for the summer’s Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan.
Not to worry. Manager Mourinho – who else? - could spring either or both off the bench and, if push came to shove, even send on Matty Burrows to show the rest of the world how to win a game of football in eye-popping style.