Bayern dominate World Player poll
The 2014 Ballon d'Or Gala concluded with Thierry Henry reading out the name of Cristiano Ronaldo as the new World Player of the Year, but when world governing body FIFA later released the results of the vote in full the evidence of Bayern's dominant position in the world game was indisputable: the positions immediately behind Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer in second and third were filled by Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller and Philipp Lahm, meaning four of the six best players on the planet play their club football for Munich.
"It was a fantastic evening for FC Bayern," club captain Philipp Lahm told FCB.tv in Zurich. "We can all be very pleased. I've just been standing alongside a few guys I've played with this year. It shows just how good we were." Neuer added: "That was a successful evening for we Bayern players and for German football."
Despite coming third overall, the 28-year-old felt anything but a loser. "It's a complete success from my point of view," said the Bayern number one. The World Cup-winning keeper was not surprised by Ronaldo's victory in the vote, "but I had a fantastic 2014," he summarised. FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he was "incredibly proud. It's fantastic that, after Franck Ribéry last year, a Bayern Munich player has been named one of the three best footballers in the world for the second year running."
Speech would have been improvised
During the ceremony at Zurich Kongresshaus, Joachim Löw was named world coach of the year, VfL Wolfsburg's Nadine Keßler claimed the women's world player crown, her club coach Ralf Kellermann was voted the top coach in the women's game, and Neuer, Lahm and Robben all made the FIFA world team of the year. "I was totally relaxed," Manuel revealed, before adding with a grin: "I didn't prepare a speech. I wouldn't have had a clue what to say if it had been me."
Despite the final result, Neuer does have one thing the skilled individuals Ronaldo and Messi lack -- a World Cup winner's medal. The 28-year-old was a key member of a well-drilled and tactically excellent Germany team at the tournament in Brazil last summer, as national team boss Löw reminded reporters: "We didn't have a solitary superstar who stood out from the rest, unlike Portugal, Brazil or Argentina."
Neuer's brief excursion away from the Doha training camp rates as a fine way to round off a year that brought the World Cup and a domestic double. Prior to flying back to Qatar on Tuesday morning, Manu was already eyeing the challenges that lie ahead. "We're on track with Bayern. We'll try and win all three trophies," he declared. In that case Germany's biggest club would undoubtedly dominate the Ballon d'Or Gala for the second year in a row.