New Delhi: Once again, it's that time of year when football fans argue who deserves to win the prestigious Ballon d'Or award – the greatest award an individual player can win in the sport.
Like in the recent past, both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have already started as the favourites to win the award. But their duopoly could see an abrupt ending this January, as the Germany's World Cup winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has found himself as one of the three finalists.
In a superb year, Neuer helped Germany become the first European country to win the World Cup in South America. The tournament witnessed the 27-year-old playing not merely as a goal-keeper but also as an outfielder too, often contributing to Joachim Loew's attacking philosophy.
With a strong physical presence, the Bayern Munich shot-stopper redefined the art of goal-keeping, often playing the role of a sweeper-keeper. Before the Brazil gala, he won Bundesliga title with the Bavarians. In fact, he has already won the German Footballer of the Year award for the 2013-14 season, beating many of his World Cup winning team-mates.
If Gelsenkirchen resident manages to beat the goal-scoring legends – Messi and Ronaldo, he will become only the second goal-keeper to win the coveted trophy. Russian legend Lev Yashin won the award in 1963. And like Yashin, Neuer is regarded as the best of his generation, a revolutionary player in his position.