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Pele: It's time to give the Ballon d'Or to Casillas

Pele: It's time to give the Ballon d'Or to Casillas

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The Brazil legend is backing the goalkeeper to win the prestigious individual award, claiming his contribution to La Roja's recent success has been undervalued.

Pele believes that now is the perfect time to award Iker Casillas the Ballon d'Or following his impressive performances in goal for Spain at Euro 2012.

The 32-year-old captain came into the tournament on the back of a Liga-winning 2011-12 campaign with Real Madrid, and conceded just one goal in Poland and Ukraine en route to the title.

Pele feels that goalkeepers have been neglected over the last few decades as he hailed Casillas' displays in the big occasions, and backed him to pip favorite Lionel Messi to the much-coveted player of the year accolade after La Roja's triumph.

"Usually it's attacking players [who win the Ballon d'Or], but for me it may be unfair to make such an assessment given that I have not seen all the games," he told AS.

"Still, there is no doubt about the performances of Casillas in big tournaments. This would be a good opportunity - the ideal time - to give him the Ballon d'Or.

"He has contributed as much as the forwards in their victories. You can have the best No.10 but it won't work if there isn't a great goalkeeper behind him.

"I have been very important [for Brazil], I will not deny that, because I was a forward. But look at [Amadeo] Carrizo, [Lev] Yashin and [Gordon] Banks. People do not talk about the goalkeepers."

Pele then commented on the state of football today as he expressed his dismay at the lack of competition on the world stage to rival Messi, before blaming the media for their tendency to overhype players.

"Every era has its great player," he said. "There are times when there are four or five to compare, but for me, now there is a time of need.

"Who today would compare with Messi? Neymar? Cristiano [Ronaldo] is second but who else is there?

"The media make a difference. I had to go and play up to the moon to get to where I did. Today, a young player scores a good goal and is lauded around the world."

Pele admitted that it saddened him to see Brazil fall to 11th place in the FIFA World Ranking, its worst position since its inception in 1993, but the 71-year-old urged people to look beyond the statistics and realize the exciting crop of Samba talent coming through.

"It's a shame, but we have to understand that rankings are based on those who beat others," he added.

"But if you talk about individuals, there are Brazilians among the best players in the world."

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