Football

STANGE: WHY I PICKED NEUER AHEAD OF RON

Garnering 37.66 per cent of the votes, Cristiano Ronaldo was certainly the popular choice for the Ballon d'Or award announced yesterday morning (Singapore time).

But one man who disagrees is Singapore's national football coach Bernd Stange.

Perhaps there was a little bit of bias at play, but the 66-year-old German picked compatriot and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer as his top choice, followed by another German, midfielder Thomas Mueller. Argentine star Lionel Messi was his third choice.

Messi got 15.76 per cent of the total votes, just ahead of Neuer, who had 15.72 per cent.

Stange told TNP: "There are many arguments for Ronaldo to be the best, and he was the clear favourite for the Ballon d'Or.

"But the world champions are Germany and they had, in Neuer, a goalkeeper who delivered outstanding performances with a new style of goalkeeping. Without him, Germany wouldn't have won the World Cup.

"As long as Ronaldo and Messi are scoring goals, there will never be a space for a defender or goalkeeper. They will rule football for a few years more."

Lions skipper Shahril Ishak, however, was more accurate - he named Ronaldo as his top choice, followed by Mueller and Messi.

Shahril, 30, had also voted for Ronaldo when the Real Madrid forward won the award last year.

"For me, it wasn't really a contest," said Johor Darul Ta'zim II captain.

"Ronaldo was clearly the best player in 2014. Just look at all the goals he scored and the records he broke. He is truly a deserving winner."

The vote from Singapore's media was made by TNP's own Gary Lim. His three choices, naturally, were spot-on: Ronaldo, Messi and Neuer.

Report by SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ