Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper stands no chance to win the Ballon d'Or award this time, says former Manchester United custodian Peter Schmeichel
The last time a goalkeeper won the prestigious Ballon d'Or award was when Lev Yashin won it in 1963. Since then, only Oliver Kahn has come close to being crowned the world's best — in 2002 when he finished runner-up in the FIFA World Player of the Year list.
This year, Manuel Neuer's inclusion in the three-man shortlist, alongside Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, for the FIFA Ballon d'Or trophy has raised hopes that a goalkeeper finally gets crowned the world's best player after 51 years.
However, former Manchester United custodian Peter Schmeichel believes that the German 'keeper doesn't stand a chance this year when the winner will be announced on January 12.
"Neuer has had a good season with Bayern Munich and Germany. But Ronaldo is the best right now. Whoever wins the Ballon d'Or should be the best player in the world.
Peter Schmeichel during an EPL promotional event at BKC's MMRDA ground on Friday. Pic/Getty Images
"So, I don't think Neuer has got a chance. Ronaldo has played so well that he's actually pulled away from the other players. He's not just the best player in the world right now but also moving quickly towards being the best ever," Schmeichel, who was in the city for the Barclays Premier League Live fan-park event, told SUNDAY mid-day.
No bias against 'keepers
Neuer's rivals have won the award before, with Messi winning it four times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) while Ronaldo was crowned the world's best footballer twice (2008, 2013). Schmeichel played for the senior team of Sporting Clube de Portugal for two seasons (1999-2001) when Ronaldo featured in their youth team.
On being asked whether the annual football award unfairly leans heavily in favour of forwards, the Danish footballer quashed suggestions that there was a bias against goalkeeper.
"Don't think so (there's a bias against goalkeepers). Other players have just done better (to win the award). Goalkeeping's not a thankless job. 'Keepers get the credit they deserve and it's a popular position," said the 51-year-old.
The FIFA Ballon d'Or award was created in 2010 when the FIFA World Player of the Year award (constituted in 1991 ) and France Football's Ballon d'Or (constituted in 1956) were merged.
The award is based on votes cast by coaches and captains of national football teams, as well as journalists. Until 1995, only European players playing for European clubs could win the Ballon d'Or. In 2007, any player in the world became eligible for the award before merging with FIFA two years later.