The Intro
The "Ballon d'Or" (French for "Golden Ball," often referred to as the European Footballer of the Year award) is an association football award. Presented since 1956 by the French football magazine France Football, it is awarded to the player considered to have performed best over the previous year; the inaugural winner was Blackpool player Stanley Matthews. The current holder of the award, as selected in 2007, is Milan's Kaka (pic)

Prior to 2007, the player had to be a member of a club based within UEFA's jurisdiction in order to qualify for selection; and until 1995 a player also had to be of European nationality to be eligible. The 2007 change in rules saw players from Qatar, the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina named on the shortlist alongside those from European clubs.

Since October 2007, 96 football journalists from around the world have decided the winner from a shortlist of 50 compiled by France Football; prior to this 52 European journalists chose a winner, who needed to play for a European club. Each voter chooses five players from the list of nominees, and awards them between one and five points. The winner is determined by the total number of points; players who finish second and third in the voting are awarded silver and bronze medals.

The Story
Manchester United’s impressive Champions League and Premier League triumph last season has earned four players nominations for the European Footballer of the Year award, organisers announced on Sunday. Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Cristiano Ronaldo and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar all made the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or, with United’s Champions League final rivals Chelsea earning three nominations in Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba.

Spain, who won Euro 2008, is the best represented country with seven players, including Liverpool striker Fernando Torres. Torres, who scored Spain’s winner in the final against Germany, told sports daily L’Equipe:
“Win­ning the Ballon d’Or would be like scaling Mount Everest.” Torres
Last year’s winner Brazilian Kaka also made the list, with this year’s winner to be announced on Dec 2. AFP

The 2008 Nominee
The full list of nominees for Ballon d'Or 2008 as follows:

Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal), Togo.
Sergio Agüero (Atletico Madrid), Argentine.
Andreï Archavine (Zénith Saint-Pétersbourg), Russia.
Michael Ballack (Chelsea), Germany.
Karim Benzema (Lyon), France.
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus Turin), Italy.
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Spain.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Portugal.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Ivory Coast.
Samuel Eto'o (FC Barcelone), Cameroon.
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Spain.
Fernando Torres (Liverpool FC), Spain.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC), England.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan), Sweden.
Kaka (Milan AC), Brazil.
Frank Lampard (Chelsea), England.
Lionel Messi (FC Barcelone), Argentina.
Pepe (Real Madrid), Portugal.
Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich), France.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), England.
Marcos Senna (Villarreal), Spain.
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Spain.
Luca Toni (Bayern Munich), Italy.
Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Netherlands.
Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg SV puis Real Madrid), Netherlands.
Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid), Netherlands.
Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Serbia.
David Villa (Valence CF), Spain.
Xavi (FC Barcelone), Spain.
Youri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscou), Russia.

The Shortlisted
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Portugal.
Fernando Torres (Liverpool FC), Spain.
Lionel Messi (FC Barcelone), Argentina.
Kaka (Milan AC), Brazil.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea), Ivory Coast.

The Winner
2nd December 2008


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