International skippers from around the world gave their picks for the prestigious award, with the vast majority backing their team-mates
By Enis Koylu
Cristiano Ronaldo won his third Ballon d’Or on Monday, moving one behind the tally of Lionel Messi, who finished second, with Manuel Neuer in third place.
Voted for by journalists, international captains and coaches, Ronaldo was not everyone’s top choice, however, with several of his fellow players plumping for other stars.
Of course, Ronaldo could not vote for himself in his capacity as Portugal captain but rooted for someone close to him, Sergio Ramos, as his first choice, with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema completing a full card of Real Madrid team-mates.
Similarly, Messi went for one of his sparring partners – though not one from Barcelona. Angel Di Maria helped Argentina reach the World Cup final and got his fellow Rosario native’s vote, with Blaugrana stars Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano his other two picks.
All three of England skipper Wayne Rooney’s choices were Real Madrid players, Cristiano Ronaldo coming first, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale completing the set.
Neither Ronaldo nor Messi met Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s approval, though. The new Germany skipper, who replaced Philipp Lahm in the summer, voted for three team-mates from both his country and Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm and Thomas Muller the 30-year-old’s top three.
A mere 0.04 per cent separated Messi and Neuer in second and third, but Italy captain Gigi Buffon‘s top three turned out to be the final order.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have spent much of the 2014-15 season thus far injured and did not have the chance to light up the World Cup as Sweden did not qualify, but the PSG star made Robin van Persie‘s top three, coming second, with Robben and Neuer either side of him.
Neuer was not the only popular goalkeeper: Uruguay’s Diego Godin had former Atletico Madrid Thibaut Courtois team-mate second on his list. Another key man in Diego Simeone’s side’s unlikely Liga victory, Diego Costa, was first and Robben third.