Football Italiano’s Player of the Year 2008/09
The accolade the players, fans and critics eagerly await each year, Football Italiano’s Player of the Year award is the one most desired by any ambitious international star plying his trade in Serie A. This season’s nominations were dominated by the Scudetto-winning Inter, with one name standing out for all to see. Is it magic? No, it’s Ibracadabra.
Chris Sloley: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – From his mercurial talents to childish rants to playing hungover the day after Inter clinched the title, the gargantuan Swede has been nothing if not omniscient this season. Proving deadly in front of goal on Inter’s successful hunt for a fourth successive Scudetto, the less-than-bashful centre forward has found time to score some of the more audacious efforts seen in Serie A this season along with a never-before-seen karate-kick pass down the wing against Lazio. Rumours abound of Ibra seeking a bigger wage elsewhere but on this season’s showing Serie A would be sadder place without him.
David Swan: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – It may seem a lazy choice, but it is difficult to hand it to anyone other than Zlatan Ibrahimović when you consider how he has carried his team to three points in so many matches this season. The focal point in attack, the man every Inter player is looking to give the ball to, he hit over one third of their league goals this season. The games against Palermo, Chievo, Cagliari and Fiorentina saw his goals earn the club 10 points, the very gap between Inter in first and Juventus in second.
James Pearson: Julio Cesar – It is fair enough to suppose that Ibrahimovic is Inter’s best and most important player, yet at the other end Julio Cesar provides support in the form of fantastic goalkeeping. Time after time he has kept Inter in matches and prevented them from losing matches due to terrible defending. Perhaps if it hadn’t been for his heroics between the posts Inter wouldn’t have found the title race just so straightforward. Consider the two-legged match with Manchester United in the Champions League. Julio Cesar undoubtedly kept Inter in both games and prevented the Nerazzurri from being embarrassed on the continental stage. The goalkeeper has been consistent throughout the term and given his side every chance of capturing that fourth successive Scudetto.
Jasmer Gill-Towner: Maicon – The Brazilian right-back has been integral to Inter’s success this season and his surging runs down the flank have become all the more important as Javier Zanetti has finally started to show signs of decline. Although he has been slightly overshadowed by his Brazilian compatriot, Dani Alves, at Barcelona, it can easily be argued that it is Maicon who is far more crucial to his side’s success. His blistering pace, decent eye for goal, defensive reliability and fantastic crossing ability make him the most outstanding player this season, and a key part of Inter’s Scudetto drive.
John Baines: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Normally these awards end up going to one of the best players from the side who wins the Scudetto, and there cannot be any doubt that Ibra has been the best player in Serie A this season. His individual displays merit the award, both in terms of his goal scoring capabilities and his ability to inspire Inter when it has been needed. His level of performance has been paramount to the Nerrazurri’s success this season, he is the focal point of the team and as such has performed not only consistently, but also consistently brilliant to earn vital points for his side throughout the campaign.
Mike Carre: Esteban Cambiasso – He’s just so influential for Inter. He breaks up the play, keeps the ball with simple passes and can really drive forward well with the ball at his feet. His strength and leadership in the middle of the park has been invaluable and although the likes of Ibra and Cesar have been getting most of the plaudits this season, for this writer Cambiasso is the most important player in Mourinho’s side. He does much of the unsung work for Mourinho and much like Makelele during the Special One’s time in London, he may not get as much recognition from the fans or Press, but his teammates and Coach certainly appreciate his tireless efforts.
Mina Rzouki: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan almost won the Scudetto for Inter single-handedly. His exquisite goals and sensational pace have actually managed to make even Mourinho’s tactics seem exciting to watch. Under his Coach’s guidance, he has become more of a complete player, looking to truly help the team as opposed to securing personal glory which had long been his biggest vice. Success in the Champions League may still elude him but Zlatan’s goals remain to be beautiful and important. He is preferred to Diego Milito as, whilst they have both scored in abundance, only the Capocannoniere managed to ensure total quality all the time.
Rishi Verma: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – What else is there to say about Ibracadabra? Four successive championship honours, and now Capocannoniere for the first time with 25 goals (two of them coming from the penalty spot), his dominance of a star-studded Inter squad is unquestionable. Despite his prolific form in front of goal and numerous assists, his continued source of irritation seems to be his club’s failure to transfer their domestic supremacy onto the European scene. Inter must do what they can to hold onto him as the math is quite simple, no Ibrahimovic = no success.
Chris Davies: Marco Di Vaio The veteran Italian striker rolled back the years to finish second in the Capocannoniere stakes with 24 league goals and inspire Bologna to beat the drop on the final day of the season. Although other players may have enjoyed more success in terms of silverware this season such as the impressive Maicon and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Inter and Diego Milito and Thiago Motta at Genoa, Di Vaio’s goals proved crucial in keeping his team in Serie A. Usually the Player of the Season award goes to a player who has inspired his team to a major title. But without the diminutive little striker, who will more than likely move on this summer for one last crack at the big time, Bologna would have only recorded 19 league goals for the season, and would have surely have struggled to beat the dreaded drop.