John Terry has been closely scrutinised after a Page Ranking blunder that saw the England captain being hawked around for sponsorship and tabloid newspaper allegations that he was involved in charging for tours of Chelsea’s training ground.
Now he has displayed a serious lapse in footballing judgment - by voting for Michael Ballack as the second best player in the world! To make matters worse for Terry, he later showed that he did not even know who he had voted for by claiming he had picked Lionel Messi as No 1 - when, in fact, he opted for Didier Drogba. At least Terry’s club loyalty is admirable.
Despite his Messi claim, records show that Terry rated Ballack’s contribution to football over the last 12 months (four Barclays Premier League goals and one for Germany) to be greater than that of the Barcelona star.
The German has been in and out of the Chelsea team this season, and his contribution could hardly be described as significant.
Terry and Fabio Capello were among the captains and coaches from 147 national teams invited to take part in the annual poll. Everyone was asked to name their top three in order but not allowed to select players from their own country.
Capello voted for Messi, Fernando Torres and Gianluigi Buffon. Terry went for Drogba, Ballack and Andres Iniesta, the Barcelona midfielder who shattered Chelsea’s dreams with a stoppage-time goal in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final in May.
There were three others casting their votes from within the Chelsea dressing room. As captain of Germany, Ballack plumped for Messi, Frank Lampard and Drogba. Drogba (Ivory Coast) picked Samuel Eto’o, Messi and Torres. And Petr Cech (Czech Republic) went for Xavi, Messi and Ronaldo.
Former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko, who rejoined Dynamo Kiev in August, did not forget his old golfing pal Terry. He named the England captain in third, behind Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Terry received three top votes in the poll, from the captains of Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh plus Wales’s Ashley Williams.
Yossi Benayoun (Israel) thought Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was the best player in the world, as did Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen (Belgium) and Bolton’s Ricardo Gardner (Jamaica).
But Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher might want to take extra care in training after ignoring the claims of Wayne Rooney. The Scotland captain went for Ronaldo, his former United team-mate, followed by Messi and Torres.
Somewhat surprisingly after a year which included some of his best England displays, Rooney only received two top votes, from the captains of Cambodia and Singapore. Wales boss John Toshack picked him in second place behind Messi and Diego Maradona is a fan too, also voting the Englishman as second (behind Drogba).
The international coaches, perhaps more focused on technique and less distracted by the fear of ruining friendships, voted heavily for Messi. Leung Sui Wing of Macau was the only coach to give his top vote to an England man (Gerrard).
Capello could not resist a nod towards his native Italy, by including Buffon in third. Marco Tardelli, however, casting Ireland’s managerial vote on behalf of Giovanni Trapattoni, named Buffon as the best in the world in a selection almost as hard to fathom as Terry’s.