ZURICH (Reuters) - The FIFA Ballon D'Or award has become a painful reminder of the sorry state Italian football, Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said Wednesday.
Italy has not had a player on the final shortlist of three since Fabio Cannavaro was voted World Player of the Year in 2006.
"The fact that no Italian has been nominated forces us to understand the situation our football is currently in, and confirms that the technical and individual quality of our players has declined," Buffon said in an interview with FIFA.com.
"I don’t know if we have a young, talented player coming through who can aspire to win this sort of award in the future.
"There is no Italian among the candidates for this year’s award because we are coming off a very disappointing World Cup and our clubs haven’t challenged for the highest honours for quite a few years.
"Either we improve the national team or our football will remain ordinary, and it will be impossible to stand out."
Buffon, still Italy's first choice goalkeeper at 36, added: "This is perhaps a low point for Italy, but the country’s history carries a lot of weight, and Italian football has always managed to combine technique with tactical discipline.
"By putting an emphasis on these qualities, I think we will soon start to grow again."