Les Davies is apparently the best player you’ve never heard of.
You may have thought it was a joke when you first read the list of the 32 players being considered for UEFA’s “Best Player in Europe,” but apparently, according to ESPN, it’s not. The list is crafted by aggregating the votes of one journalist from every UEFA member country, and apparently one journalist—probably the Welsh one—thought that Les Davies was good enough to be up there with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney, despite the fact that Davies’ team, Bangor City, play in the Welsh Premier League, the 46th highest ranked league of Europe (out of 53).
Still, I suppose you can’t argue with world-class headers like these:
And how about this finish…the goalkeeper had no chance!
In all seriousness, there’s two ways to looks at this.
One, is to take it as a good lighthearted joke, and a harmless one at that. The whole concept of a 32 person shortlist for the award is a bit ridiculous in the first place; only five players at most in every given season really have a chance to win the award. A 10-15 person shortlist would’ve been understandable, and maybe even 20 would’ve been okay, but 32 is just overkill.
Guys like Fernando Torres, Raul, Luka Modric and Fabio Coentrao, among others, really do not deserve a place on a list that should be made up of players deserving of a shot at the Best Player in Europe award.
For Davies, this will surely be a moment he’ll never forget, and for someone as small-time as him, playing for minimal wages in a very small league, any press is good press. Who knows, teams might actually take some interest in him and see if he’s worth investing in!
The second way of course to look at this is through harsher, stricter lens. Davies made it onto the list with one vote, meaning that this could happen again next year if another journalist decides to pull the same joke the journalist who nominated Davies did.
It’s not entirely harmless either; Davies will be getting the most press he’s ever had in his life, and down the line, that could surely result in some financial reward. After all, he’s already a “cult-hero” for his club in Wales; what Wales-based company wouldn’t want to capitalize on that and his new-found fame and have a candidate for Best Player in Europe advertising their products?
It may seem an insignificant form of corruption, especially in light of all the corruption scandals going on with FIFA today, but it’s still corruption. Should it just be allowed to continue, or should the system be revamped or rules introduced to prevent journalists for making such picks?