A year ago, U.S. men's national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann famously left Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi off his three-man Ballon d'Or ballot. This time around he didn't neglect the Portugal superstar and 2014 winner entirely.
Klinsmann, who was runner-up for the Ballon d'Or to Liberia's George Weah as a player in 1995 and was on FIFA's 10-man shortlist for 2014 Coach of the Year, voted for countryman Manuel Neuer, Ronaldo and Netherlands' Arjen Robben, respectively, on his 2014 ballot. All three were named to FIFA/FIFPro's World XI earlier in FIFA's Ballon d'Or Gala. Last year, Klinsmann voted for Franck Ribery, Gareth Bale and Radamel Falcao. Ronaldo and Messi finished 1-2 in the overall voting.
National team coaches and captains and select worldwide media make up the voting brigade for the prestigious individual honor, with FIFA publishing their picks (transparency!) on its official website.
As for some of the more notable ballots aside from Klinsmann, who is in California kicking off the U.S. men's national team's January camp:
- U.S. captain Clint Dempsey voted for Ronaldo, Messi and Bayern Munich/Germany forward Thomas Muller.
- Mexico manager Miguel Herrera, who also omitted Ronaldo and Messi last year, put his support behind Ronaldo, voting him in first place and following that with Philipp Lahm and Toni Kroos.
- Mexico captain Andres Guardado voted for Lahm, Angel di Maria and Ronaldo.
- Ronaldo and Messi didn't vote for each other, yet again. Ronaldo opted for club teammates Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. Messi went the teammate route as well, mixing club and country. His votes went to Di Maria, Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano.
- England manager Roy Hodgson gave Mascherano his first-place vote.
- Sweden national team coach Erik Hamren gave his first-place vote to countryman Zlatan Ibrahimovic; Colombia manager Jose Pekerman did the same for Puskas Award winner James Rodriguez. As for Ibra, he voted for Messi, Neuer and Ronaldo, respectively.
- Joachim Low, who won World Coach of the Year for Men's Football for leading Germany to the World Cup title, voted for three of his players: Neuer, Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
- Other players garnering first-place votes from around the world: Thibaut Courtois, Mario Gotze, Paul Pogba, Diego Costa, Neymar, Muller, Robben, Iniesta, Bale, Kroos, Benzema, Schweinsteiger.