As FIFA announced on Friday their final shortlist for this year’s Best Men’s Player, there was little surprise when the three nominees were read out.
However, while there may have been little shock at that trio being named as the finalists a look back at the original shortlist gave a damning assessment of English football.
Of the 24 players named back in August as candidates for the Best FIFA Men’s Player only one Englishman made the cut – Harry Kane.
In truth, such an outcome is very much the norm when it comes to English players challenging for top individual awards in football.
There was fleeting success over a decade ago, when Frank Lampard took second place at the FIFA World Player of the Year awards behind Ronaldinho. That same year Steven Gerrard came third in the race to win the Ballon D’Or.
The name of football’s top award may have changed over the years, but England’s record has not.
Wayne Rooney’s fifth-place finish at the new combined Fifa Ballon D’Or awards in 2010 has since only been backed up by his 15th placed finished a year later.
The days of Kevin Keegan winning back-to-back Ballon D’Ors in 1978 and 1979 are a distant memory.
However, Kane’s emergence on this year’s list does at least give England hope going forward.
His performacnes over the past few years have been nothing sort of remarkable and it is startling think he has already bagged 100 goals for Tottenham.
And for England’s most capped player, Peter Shitlon, the star striker represents plenty to build on.
“Harry Kane to me is bordering on world class,” he said. “He is still inexperienced, he is maturing, but he is what I call a proper player.
“He scores goals and he is strong, he has got a good attitude and he is a real bright light for England. He is something we can really build upon.”
Shilton admits it is very disappointing to see Kane as the sole representative for England on FIFA’s shortlist.
However, given their recent record in tournaments it is perhaps not surprising to see the Tottenham striker as the shining light for his country.
When it comes to the Three Lions, Shilton believes they need improvement all over the pitch.
But when he thinks back to his playing days there is one creative spark the former goalkeeper would like to see recreated by Gareth Southgate’s side.
“I would like to see us be stronger defensively,” Shilton said.
“A little bit meaner in defence. I would like to see a little bit more creation in midfield, maybe a player like Paul Gascoigne when I played who could open defences up and go past people.
“He was obviously at his peak – exceptional at that. We need a little bit more creation in midfield, but where are we going to find that I am not sure.
“But I would like to see a little bit more of that in the midfield area. In attack, with Hary Kane, we have got a lot to build on.
“It is disappointing. At the end of the day that’s probably what we are lacking a little bit of.
“We are lacking that world class ability. Harry Kane I think is bordering on it now and that is the standard we have got to aim for certainly.”
Shilton is certainly right in his assessment that Kane is the standard all of England’s hopefuls should be hoping to reach.
In what is considered by many a disappointing era, the 24-year-old is something for the country to build on.
However, such a scenario cannot happen if more players aren’t given chances like Kane was.
It was Mauricio Pochettino’s faith in the striker that allowed him to develop, but too often youngsters are overlooked.
Undeniably, success in the Champions League and at major international tournaments will also see more Englishman make FIFA’s shorlist.
However, the two go hand in hand. You cannot go far in major tournaments unless you have world class players.
Given the wealth of money in the English game, and the cash being poured into academies, it is about finding that talent and giving it a chance to shine.
It certainly worked with Kane – and it can work again.