The 23-man shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d'Or was revealed yesterday and it was little surprise to see that there was just one English player to make the grade in Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney.
His 27 goals for Manchester United in the Premier League and importance to the England side helped to maintain the view that he is one of the finest players on the planet. Yet, most would agree that he is not in contention for the award as his achievements pale in significance compared to other names on the list.
For Rooney to have had a genuine chance of winning this award you feel he would have had to singlehandedly led England to glory at Euro 2012. Even then the performances of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi may have won over the judges.
The Ballon d'Or is certainly not the only way to judge the greatest players in the world, as highlighted by the emission of Diego Maradona and Pele when only Europeans could win the award, but it does go a long way to suggesting in which countries the talent lies.
The Spanish national team makes up just under a third of all nominees with seven players up for the prestigious award. Italy and Germany both have three representatives, while the footballing power that is the Ivory Coast even has two nominations. England have just one.
Perhaps Ashley Cole can feel unfortunate not to have made the list having helped Chelsea win the Champions League, while the same could be said of Frank Lampard. Steven Gerrard, who finished third back in 2005, was never going to be in contention after a disappointing campaign with Liverpool. Who else is there?
It is hard to think of another English player who could have made the grade this year. In fact we have to go back more than a decade to find the last English winner of the Ballon d'Or when a young Michael Owen helped Liverpool deliver a treble of trophies in the 2000-2001 season.
Before Owen, we have to go all the way back to 1979 to find the last Englishman to win the award as Kevin Keegan was honoured for the second successive year for his remarkable performances for Hamburg.
So in the last 32 years we have only produced one player worthy of winning this most cherished award. Some will argue that the England national team has failed to deliver during this period, but the performance of the county of their birth has not stopped Hristo Stoichkov, George Weah, Pavel Nedved and Andry Shevchenko from winning the Ballon d'Or.
We also cannot blame the performance of the Premier League clubs in Europe. In the last eight years we have produced seven finalists and three winners, while the late 70's and early 80's was dominated by sides in England, including Nottingham Forest and Liverpool.
So why are England struggling to produce genuinely world class players. Some would blame the dilution of the Premier League where the best talent from around the globe can now be found, further limiting the chances of young English players.
Others would argue that the problem lies at youth level and that players are not receiving the right form of coaching. A consensus back in 2010 revealed that we had just 2,769 English coaches with UEFA B, A and Pro badges. France had 17,588, Spain 23,995, Italy 29,420 and Germany a massive 34,790.
There is also an argument that Premier League clubs are looking to sign the best young players from around the globe. The academies of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are packed with players from far and wide and it is increasingly difficult to make it even at youth level.
It is perhaps a combination of all of these facts that has meant we have struggled to produce a player in the same calibre of Ronaldo or Messi; Rivaldo or Kaka, Zidane or Cannavaro.
The FA is attempting to address the issue with the opening of St George's Park, a national football centre boasting state of the art equipment for all 24 incarnations of the England team.
It will almost certainly take time to reap the benefits but in the next 32 years we will hope to have produced more than one player worthy of being crowned the best player in the world.
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