The much-awaited event was over as FIFA announced their FIFPro World XI for 2015. From the ballots casted by over 25,000 professional football players worldwide, 11 stars garnered their place at the FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich’s Kongresshaus on 11 January 2016.
Get to know your 11 best football players of the 2015 World XI edition.
Manuel Neuer (Germany, FC Bayern Munich)
The German professional footballer is best described as a “sweeper-keeper” because of his exceptional speed, his quick reflexes, excellent shot-stopping abilities, command of his area, and accurate control and distribution of the ball.
Did you know that Neuer was the voice behind Frank McCay, a character in the German version of the 2013 Disney’s Monsters University?
Dani Alves (Brazil, FC Barcelona)
Daniel Alves da Silva (commonly known as Dani Alves) plays as a right back for Spanish club Barcelona and the Brazil national team.
Did you know that during a match at Villarreal’s stadium, El Madrigal, in April 2014, David Campaya Lleo threw a banana at Alves? Alves picked up the banana, peeled it, and took a bite. He commented on the incident, “We have suffered this in Spain for some time. You have to take it with a dose of humour. We aren’t going to change things easily. If you don’t give it importance, they don’t achieve their objective.”
Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid CF)
Sergio Ramos García serves as a captain for Real Madrid.
Did you know that Ramos is a fan of bullfighting? It’s popular in his hometown and he is a personal friend of matador, Alejandro Talavante. He celebrated victories for both club and country by playing with a matador’s cape.
Thiago Silva (Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain)
Thiago Emiliano da Silva (commonly known as Thiago Silva) plays as a central defender for Ligue 1 club, Paris Saint-Germain, and the Brazilian national team.
Silva established himself as one of the highest rated defenders in the world, winning the Serie A title with the Rossoneri in the 2010–11 season.
He has been described as a strong defender by his peers and critics, because of his phenomenal tactical intelligence and knowledge of the game.
Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid CF)
Marcelo Vieira da Silva Júnior (a.ka. Marcelo) is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for the Spanish club, Real Madrid and the Brazil national team. He plays mainly at left back but can also operate as a left-winger.
Did you know that Marcelo attained Spanish nationality on 26 July 2011? This allows him to be registered normally rather than as a non-EU player, which holds a strict quota.
Paul Pogba (France, Juventus)
Paul Labile Pogba plays for the Italian club, Juventus and the France national team. He works as a central midfielder and is comfortable at playing in both attack and defense.
Pogba began his football career at the age of six. He spent seven seasons at the US Roissy-en-Brie before joining US Torcy, where he served as captain of the club’s under-13 team.
While Manchester United fought Le Havre for the signing of a young Pogba, the French midfielder was not best pleased with his development at Old Trafford.
He wanted to play in the senior squad as a regular but United and Sir Alex Ferguson were not going to grant him that during that time. Pogba only made seven first team appearances for
Manchester United between 2010 and 2012, all of them as substitutes.
He left United on a free transfer to join Juventus and the rest we know is history. Paul Pogba is one player who slipped away from Manchester United but he did speak about his time at the club.
Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid CF)
Modrić plays primarily as a central midfielder but can also play as an attack and defense midfielder.
Modrić began playing football at an early age, unaware of the war. In 1992, he simultaneously entered the primary school and a sporting academy. The latter was paid for with the little money the family had.
Andrés Iniesta (Spain, FC Barcelona)
Andrés Iniesta Luján serves as the captain for Barcelona and the central midfielder for Spain national team.
Iniesta is considered as one of the best players of his generation and one of the greatest midfielders of all time.
The Barcelona fans unsurprisingly hold Iniesta very close to their hearts and have nicknamed him ‘El Ilusionista’ which means the Illusionist in an ode to his superhuman passing skills.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid CF)
“I am an ambitious player with only one objective: victory for my team”
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, plays as a forward for Spanish club Real Madrid and the captain for Portugal national team.
Ronaldo’s jump generates five times more power than that of a wild Cheetah as it jumps in full flight. This speed allows him to reach a height of 44cm in the air, which is more than what an average NBA player can do.
We all know Ronaldo is fast. But did you know that he’s REALLY fast. He recently went up against and defeated the Spanish sprinter Angel David Rodriquez in a zigzag spring challenge.
Lionel Messi (Argentina, FC Barcelona)
Messi started his football career in 1995 at Newell’s Old Boys, where he played until the year 2000. At the age of 13, Lionel Messi tried his luck in Barcelona and joined the under-14s.
Did you know – Messi was not very healthy and nutritious in his childhood days like the other boys around. He was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency which was stopping his normal growth rate at a tender age of 11. His parents could not afford his treatment, which was $900 a month.
Messi’s first contract with Barcelona was detailed out on a paper napkin! FC Barcelona sporting director Carles Rexach was so impressed with Messi’s skills that he wanted to make a contract immediately and there was no paper available at that time.
Neymar Jr. (Brazil, FC Barcelona)
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (a.ka. Neymar or Neymar Jr.) plays as forward or winger and is the captain of the national team.
Neymar was just beginning to showcase his skill in 2010 when an English team took notice. That club was surprisingly West Ham. They quickly made a bid of £12 million for the Brazilian but were turned down immediately. It was this bid that drew eyes to Neymar on a worldwide level as Chelsea then took interest before other clubs joined the transfer frenzy.
Did you know that Neymar appeared on the cover of Time magazine in February 2013? He was the first Brazilian athlete to receive such honour.
Over 5 years, Neymar gets $74 million in salary of which $13 million is signing bonus.