The 19th edition of the FIFA World Player Gala has played host to more star names than ever before, with the 2009 showpiece welcoming much more than just the five finalists for the major individual awards. Also among the guests were the players voted into the FIFA/FIFPro World XI, a dream line-up which received one of the biggest ovations of the night. FIFA.com had the opportunity to speak to a group of players which any coach would love to have at their disposal.
Starting between the sticks, and it was Spain captain Iker Casillas who was chosen to provide the safe pair of hands. “It’s gratifying to be recognised like this. It’s a prize decided by us professional footballers and, given how much competition there is and how difficult it is being a keeper, it’s a pleasure for me to be here. It’s an honour and it motivates you. My name’s been appearing on this type of end-of-year lists for a while now, and when you see yourself there you want to stay there. And that forces you to perform consistently,” said the Real Madrid shotstopper.
Making up the backline are Daniel Alves, Nemanja Vidic, John Terry and Patrice Evra. “In a year during which we won six titles, after that great collective success it’s very nice and very special to be recognised at an individual level too,” said Barcelona’s Brazilian full-back. “It’s an honour to be voted for by your team-mates, your opponents, those who you play against week in week out all over the world. It’s a privilege to be part of this team,” added Chelsea and England stalwart Terry.
His thoughts were echoed by fellow centre-back Vidic of Manchester United: “This is huge, I’d never even dreamed of this happening.” His United team-mate Evra, left-back in this select side, had this to say: “It’s a real honour to be in the world’s best XI, even more so when it’s chosen by people in the same profession. I’d just like to thank them and I hope to keep doing a good job so they keep enjoying the way I play.”
And how would about a midfield trio featuring Steven Gerrard, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta? “I feel fantastic. It’s an honour for any player to be among the world’s best and even more so when it’s voted for by fellow pros. For me, this is a real privilege, it’s a pleasure to be here,” said Barça schemer Xavi, with fellow midfield maestro Iniesta nodding his agreement nearby. Liverpool’s driving force Gerrard was another clearly moved by the occasion: “I feel really flattered and honoured, because it’s really special to be voted for by your colleagues.”
Undoubtedly a superb team thus far, a front-line of Fernando Torres, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is the icing on a magnificent cake. “It’s a real source of joy and satisfaction as well a privilege to be in this XI. All of us players try to reach the top and achieve our goals, and receiving this kind of recognition from your fellow professionals is something else, it fills you with pride. I want to keep battling to make sure I come back here. What’s more, this year I’ve made it without even winning a title. What I mean is, though collectively we’ve not had the best of luck, on a personal note the balance is right and I’m doing my job well,” said El Niño Torres.
It is fitting, however, that the final word should go to La Pulga Messi, winner of the FIFA World Player award for 2009. “Quite simply I’m happy. To get this recognition is really nice, and even more so given it comes from my fellow pros. That makes it all the more important.”