No English, no surprise

No English, no surprise

The shortlist for the 2013 Ballon D'or has been announced and, once again, it is bereft of Englishmen. The richest, most exciting league in the world is still struggling to produce homegrown players worthy of the profile.

The closest the English can get to a seat at this table is to pretend that Gareth Bale isn't Welsh, but that is hardly a satisfactory remedy. It is clear that the nation responsible for the codification of the sport is no longer a breeding ground for people who are exceptional at it.

This is hardly breaking news of course. The last time that England enjoyed a heavy presence on the shortlist was in 2009 when Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard were placed eighth and ninth, respectively, with Frank Lampard and John Terry back in 21st and 26th.

Since then, only Rooney has managed a reappearance on the list, but as little more than an afterthought. In 2011, he picked up just 2.3 per cent of the total vote. In 2012, he was down to 0.39 per cent. This year, his miserable end to the 2012/13 campaign has seen him off the shortlist entirely.

The awkward truth is that, while Rooney may yet reemerge as a candidate in 2014, he is no longer an up-and-coming superstar. He'll be 29 when the next shortlist is announced.

Steve Gerrard will be 34, Frank Lampard will be 36 and John Terry will be 33. David Beckham and Michael Owen have already retired. The golden generation is over.

In its wake, who does England have?

Jack Wilshere is arguably the brightest hope, but he is already suffering from recurring injuries.

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