By James Agberebi:
Former Nigeria international Austin Okocha believes the ability of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar to entertain and also decide the outcome of a football match is why they are the three final nominees for The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2017.
Okocha stated this to FIFA.com in London during the unveiling of the finalists in each of the seven categories of the FIFA Best Awards.
Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar were announced as the three final candidates in the men’s category for The FIFA Best Player award.
Ronaldo is the current holder of the award after winning it in 2016.
Other football legends who joined Okocha for the unveiling of the finalists included former England goalkeeping great Peter Shilton, former Chelsea player and 2012 UEFA Champions League winning coach, Roberto Di Matteo, Ukrainian and AC Milan great Andriy Shevchenko and England women’s star Alex Scott.
Former Super Eagles captain and great showman Okocha said: “Football is a show and you have to enjoy what you are doing.
“The most important thing is to recognise when to do it and when to play for the team. That’s why [Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar] are the best players in the world.”
And on his choice for the Puskas Best Goal award, Okocha said he will pick South Africa’s Oscarine Masuluke of Baroka FC ahead of other nominees which include Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, Moussa Dembele of Celtic, Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng of Las Palmas and Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic.
“I think they were all amazing goals, but the one I will vote for is the goalkeeper [Oscarine Masuluke] because it happens very rarely,” Okocha stated.
“It’s not just very rare for a goalkeeper to score, but to score a bicycle kick in the last minute of the game as well. I think it’s special.”
The award ceremony will hold in London on October 23, 2017.
In other the Best FIFA Football Awards nominations, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, Juventus’ Massimiliano Alegri and Zinedine Zidane are in the running for the Best Men’s Award.
For the best goalkeeper for men, Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus and Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas made the final shortlist.
And for the best women’s coach, former Super Falcons coach Florence Omagbemi who was initially among the nominees was dropped from the final three who are Nils Nielsen (Denmark’s women national team), Gerard Precheur (Olympique Lyon women’s team) and Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands women’s team).