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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Real wizard's play-off tour de force got Keane's vote

Published 14/01/2014 | 02:30

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Ireland captain Robbie Keane backed Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or
Ireland captain Robbie Keane backed Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or

Ireland captain Robbie Keane backed Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or top spot but Martin O'Neill voted for Lionel Messi.

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Keane revealed last week that he had given Ronaldo the nod ahead of Messi, with his old Spurs colleague Gareth Bale in third. O'Neill went for the same three players with Messi first, Ronaldo second and Bale also on the podium.

"I've voted Messi every other year but I just think this year he (Ronaldo) has been consistent," said Keane. "I know he's just doing the same thing that he always does but I think this year that if anyone deserves it he does; just look at what he did in the play-offs against Sweden."

England captain Steven Gerrard went for Ronaldo but was one of the five national captains to register a vote for Luis Suarez, placing him in third.

Suarez's Liverpool team-mate Martin Skrtel put him in top spot, as did Uruguayan skipper Diego Lugano, who put another countryman, Edinson Cavani, in second place. There was also a bit of parochialism close to home with Wales' Ashley Williams -- and boss Chris Coleman -- opting for Bale as his top choice. Dutch skipper Robin Van Persie placed Arjen Robben at the top of his list.

Several coaches also raised eyebrows by ignoring both Messi and Ronaldo from their top three. Italian supremo Cesare Prandelli went for Andrea Pirlo followed by Philipp Lahm and Robert Lewandowski.

USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann went for German-based Franck Ribery ahead of Gareth Bale and Falcao, while all-conquering Spain coach Vicente del Bosque went for Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Ribery.

There were some unusual first preferences with Thiago Silva (China), Cavani (Lebanon), Lahm (Israel) and Thomas Muller (Bhutan) receiving first preferences from unexpected quarters.

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, a German international of Turkish origin, was chosen by the manager and captain of his ancestral home.

Irish Independent

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