Monday 19 March 2018

Robbie Keane and Martin O’Neill differed in their Ballon d'Or choices

Lionel Messi speaks with Cristiano Ronaldo after winning
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Barcelona star Lionel Messi scooped the Ballon d’Or for the fifth time in his career, but he wasn't the number one choice for Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane.

Messi claimed the award in Zurich with 41pc of the vote, ahead of rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

The votes of the international captains and managers was revealed and showed that the LA Galaxy striker’s first choice was the Real Madrid superstar, with Messi second and Neymar third.

O’Neill went with the majority and selected the Argentinian as his first choice, with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard in second place ahead of Ronaldo.

Interestingly, Ronaldo and Messi did not make each other’s top three selection.

Messi picked team-mate Luis Suarez as his number one choice, followed by Neymar and Iniesta, while Ronaldo went for Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.

Wayne Rooney selected his former United team-mate in third place, behind Messi and Germany’s Thomas Muller, while Roy Hodgson went for Ronaldo, Messi Neymar.

Third-placed Neymar went for three Barcelona team-mates in Messi, Neymar and Rakitic.

Germany coach Joachim Low didn’t pick any of the three short-listed candidates. Bayern Munich shot-stopper Manuel Neuer was his number one choice, followed by Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos.

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