Coaches, fans, media and even players can’t make up their minds

LONDON: So, who really is the best footballer in the world? 

The coaches, fans and media can't make up their minds. 

Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane was a runaway winner of FIFA's poll of top coaches for the World Player of the Year award. 

Pavel Nedved of Juventus was the choice of 52 journalists in France Football magazine's European player of the year on Monday – with Zidane back in fifth place. 

Another respected magazine, World Soccer, polled its readers. They picked Nedved at the top, with Zidane not even in the top 10. 

Shut out of the awards was Arsenal's Thierry Henry, who was runner-up in both the FIFA and France Football polls and fifth in World Soccer's

The voting figures make it even more confusing. 

Zidane collected 264 points in the FIFA poll, with second-place Henry well behind on 186. Nedved was fourth. 

In the France Football voting, Nedved had 190 points, ahead of Henry's 128. In the World Soccer poll, the Czech star collected 35.9% of the votes, well ahead of Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy, who had 9.5%. 

Nedved was surprised to receive the France Football award ahead of Zidane, Henry and AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini, who placed third. 

“I did not think I would beat Thierry Henry, Paolo Maldini or Zinedine Zidane and, if I had voted, I would have voted for Thierry and for the other players on the podium,'' he said. 

“I am very happy for myself, my wife, my children and country but I don't know how I beat Thierry Henry or Zinedine Zidane.'' 

In terms of achievements, Nedved may have the edge because he helped Juventus win their second Serie A title in a row.  

He was suspended for the Champions Cup final loss to AC Milan because of a needless second yellow card in the semi-final. He was badly missed by Juventus, who lost on penalties at Old Trafford. 

“I was very disappointed not to play in the final with AC Milan and maybe it was a professional mistake for me not to play,'' Nedved said. “The world fell on my head.'' 

His performances for the Czech Republic helped the team reach next summer's European Championship with an impressive record of seven wins and a tie from its eight games. 

Only the French record of eight wins was better and Zidane played a major roll in that perfect performance. He also helped Real Madrid extend their record of Spanish league titles to 29, although he failed to get the team past Juventus in the Champions League semi-final. 

Henry also was part of that standout French qualifying performance for Euro 2004.  

But his Arsenal team were caught by Manchester United in the Premier League title race and he had to be satisfied with an FA Cup triumph. 

“He is the most efficient player in world football at the moment,'' said former France coach Aime Jacquet, who guided the team to their 1998 World Cup triumph. – AP 

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