The world’s professional footballers have spoken (via the ballot box) and they’ve elected Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kanté to the 2018 FIFPro all-world first eleven. The announcement came at the (still most awkwardly named) The Best FIFA Football Awards Show at Royal Festival Hall in London on Monday evening.
The duo finally get their recognition after being snubbed for last year’s awards. It’s the first time either has been voted onto the team, and are among five newcomers in total (Mbappé, Varane, and De Gea), potentially signaling a changing of the guard among Europe’s recognized elite.
The last Chelsea player to be selected for the FIFPRo First XI was David Luiz in 2014, though by the time the announcements were made, he was in Paris. John Terry is the only Chelsea player to make multiple appearances, getting voted in for five straight years (2005-2009). Frank Lampard (2005), Claude Makélélé (2005), and Didier Drogba (2007) have all been recognized once since the award’s inception in 2005.
This year’s full lineup — David De Gea, Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Raphaël Varane, Marcelo, Luka Modrić, N’Golo Kanté, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, Eden Hazard, Cristiano Ronaldo — has Hazard as the third midfielder, which is something unlikely to happen in real life, to say the least, but is perfectly acceptable for awards night.
It’s a bit shocking that this is David De Gea’s first ever appearance in the FIFPro XI (Casillas, Neuer, and Buffon had been the only three players to win it since Dida got it in the first year), but it’s amusing that he did it in the same year that Thibaut Courtois was named FIFA The Best Goalkeeper. Mohamed Salah, he of 44 goals last season, was also shut out.
Congratulations to Hazard and Kanté for getting recognition among their peers for qualities we’ve known about for years. As the man himself put it, “it was a good night for Chelsea”