Spain, as everyone knows, is a football mad nation. This year has been a particularly fruitful one for the national team, culminating in an historic victory in South Africa; no national team can please its fans more than by winning the World Cup, but taking back-to-back European and World titles has secured this squad’s legendary status.
Now, with the announcement of FIFA’s prestigious Golden Ball Awards there is even more joy for Spain as no less than seven of its star players are nominated for the coveted Player of the Year prize.

The chosen footballers are Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas, Cesc Fabregas, Andrés Iniesta, Carlos Puyol, David Villa and Xavi, all of who have had astonishingly good seasons and will now finish 2010 on a high.

The good news doesn’t end there, either. Two Spanish trainers have also been nominated for a FIFA award, namely Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola and national trainer Vicente del Bosque.

The FIFA awards are considered especially prestigious because team captains and trainers from around the world vote for the winners. Currently there are 23 nominated players and 10 trainers, but on December 6th the shortlists will be announced. The top three vote winners in each category will then be eligible for the two prizes, which will be announced at a ceremony in Zurich on January 10th 2011, along with the FIFA Fair Play award that is awarded after each World Cup to the team with the best record of fair play during the tournament.

After the bad-tempered final only a hopeless optimist would imagine that normally squeaky-clean Holland might have a chance of winning this celebration of good sportsmanship!