As we close in on the time to select an African Player of the Year, how about Egypt's Mohamed Aboutrika?
Aboutrika sports an excellent resume: he's won 2 African Cup of Nations with Egypt, won 3 African Champions Leagues with Egyptian club team Al Ahly and conquered 4 league titles with the Egyptian powerhouse.
On top of that, he's heralded as 'the Egyptian Zinedine Zidane for his technical skill and excellent vision of the field.' Nice comparisons, eh?
As Aboutrika's Wikipedia entry says, 'Aboutrika's contribution came not only in finding the net but also in creating from his playmaking role behind the strikers. His offensive skills were best demonstrated in his timing, as he often chose the right moment to come forward for shots on goal. He has recently been dubbed "The Smiling Assassin" by foreign media because of his two main trademarks: goalscoring and smiling. He is renowned in Egypt for his modest personality and kind heart. His trade mark celebration after a goal is to prostrate on the ground in submission and praise of Allah.'
So why is the man not on the short list for FIFA World Player of the Year?
Good question and one I can't answer ... it seems Aboutrika fills all the requirements, winning titles and excelling in his role.
The Guardian's Paul Doyle questions this and France Football's awarding of the Ballon d'Or, their annual award for best player of the year (won by Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo this season) in an article this week ... It's a great read and makes the case for Mohamed Aboutrika ...
Something to keep in mind when voting for your BBC African Player of the Year? Hmm ...
But for the strongest claim of all we should look to an inspirational player who is the creative fulcrum of both his club and his country, with whom he this season achieved everything he possibly could. He won his domestic championship and the African champions league with his club while taking the continental crown with his country, even scoring the winner in the final, his fourth goal of a tremendous tournament. Scandalously, the France Football editorial team who selected the 30 players for whom their worldwide panel of journalists are allowed to vote overlooked the Al Ahly and Egypt playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika.
Fifa won't compensate for this offensive anomaly. Their shortlist doesn't include Aboutrika either. Nor anyone else from Egypt's recent vintage. Hardly surprising given that Fifa doesn't even rank Egypt, winners of the last two African Cups of Nations, as the best team in Africa. Not enough Europe-based players, perhaps.