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FOOTBALL

Favoured Messi on short list for best footballer

Barcelona pair Lionel Messi and Neymar were on Monday named on the shortlist for Zurich-based Fifa's prestigious Ballon d'Or trophy for world's best footballer, along with double reigning title holder, Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.

Favoured Messi on short list for best footballer
Lionel Messi, who has won the Ballon d'Or four times, is favoured to win it again. Photo: AFP/File

While Portuguese Ronaldo has triumphed over the last two seasons (in a total of three wins), Argentinian Messi has previously claimed the coveted award four times, and Brazilian Neymar makes the shortlist for Fifa's player of the year award for the first time.
   
Messi was the catalyst for Barcelona's impressive run to three titles last season (the Champions League, La Liga and the Spanish Cup) and will be the standout favourite ahead of Ronaldo.
   
The Portugal international might have finished the season without a trophy, but his individual talent shone out as he was La Liga's highest scorer with 48 goals, and has notched up a leading seven in the Champions League this term.
   
World Cup-winning captain Carli Lloyd (USA/Houston Dash), Aya Miyama (Japan/Okayama Yunogo Belle), and Celia Sasic (Germany/1. FFC Frankfurt) are in the running for the Fifa Women's World Player of the Year award.
   
Two Spanish coaches, Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola and Barcelona's Luis Enrique made the shortlist of the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men's Football award alongside Jorge Sampaoli, the Argentinian coach who led Chile to Copa America victory.
   
And Jill Ellis (USA/USA national team), Mark Sampson (Wales/English national team) and Norio Sasaki (Japan/Japanese national team) are the final trio to battle it out for the Fifa World Coach of the Year for Women's Football award.
   
All of the awards will be presented at the FIFA Ballon d'Or award ceremony in Zurich on January 11th 2016.

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FOOTBALL

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame

A Swiss super fan who has shot to fame after images of him watching Switzerland’s win over France went viral told the media he was unaware of his viral fame - but that he was overwhelmed with the world’s attention.

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame
Image: Twitter.

Like most Swiss football fans, Luca Loutenbach’s Monday evening – highlighted by a surprise upset win over the current World Champions and tournament favourite France – went about as well as you could have expected. 

But while his side were putting on the pressure through late goals to push the game into extra time, Loutenbach’s image was being shared across the world. 

Two pictures of Loutenbach, juxtaposed from before and after Switzerland scored an equaliser in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time, were widely shared. 

The images were even shared by Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, who congratulated Switzerland and said the images summed up the beauty of football. 

On Tuesday, Loutenbach spoke with Swiss tabloid Blick to tell the story. He said he had no idea about the images as his phone had no reception in Romania – and only found out after the game. 

“I didn’t have a network during the game. But some fans around me were connected to the internet and quickly realized what was happening. What an incredible buzz!” said the man from the canton of Jura. 

While Switzerland have made it further than they have in their history in the tournament, Loutenbach is far from a bandwagon fan. He told Blick he’s seen around 50 national team games before. 

“It’s the most beautiful day in the history of Swiss football, let’s not be afraid of saying it. It is the accomplishment of the immense work of the ASF (Federation), of (coach) Petkovic and of the whole team” he said. 

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