Semi-professional Welsh winger Les Davies nominated for UEFA Best Player in Europe Award

Dirty Tackle
The man in the blue kit is one of Europe's finest players (
The man in the blue kit is one of Europe's finest players (

Last year's inaugural UEFA Best Player in Europe Award (launched as a replacement for the Ballon d'Or) was taken home by Lionel Messi, in recognition of his status as "the best player, irrespective of his nationality, playing for a football club within the territory of a UEFA member association during the previous season."

The 32-player longlist for the 2011/12 award has been announced today, and the Barcelona superstar makes the cut once again, along with likely contenders such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin van Persie and Andrea Pirlo. Joining these millionaire luminaries, however, is Les Davies, a 27-year-old winger from semi-professional Welsh Premier League side Bangor City.

So how can a player you've never heard of be a candidate for such a prestigious award? At first glance it appears to be a bad joke on UEFA's part, but the BBC reveal it was actually the result of journalistic democracy:

The long-list was drawn up by one selected journalist from each Uefa member country voting for their five best players.

A single nomination, believed to be from a Welsh journalist, was enough to earn Davies's place.

It's puzzling that a single vote from one writer has warranted the nomination of a player that the other voting journalists almost certainly hadn't heard of. Davies himself appeared confused by the decision when speaking to Sky Sports News:

"I'm flattered and honoured to be on such a list. I can't get my head round what's happened in the last few days.''

"To be on the list with those people is unbelievable. Just to be nominated in the 32 is fantastic. I'll take that - I don't think I've got much of a chance to make the top three!''

The full list of 32 is published below — note how players like Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and Franck Ribery have been deemed less significant than a "cult" winger who has yet to be selected by the footballing powerhouse that is the Wales national team:

Sergio Agüero (ARG) — Manchester City FC
Xabi Alonso (ESP) — Real Madrid CF
Mario Balotelli (ITA) — Manchester City FC
Jakub Błaszczykowski (POL) — Borussia Dortmund
Gianluigi Buffon (ITA) — Juventus
Iker Casillas (ESP) — Real Madrid CF
Petr Čech (CZE) — Chelsea FC
Fábio Coentrão (POR) — Real Madrid CF
Leslie Davies (WAL) — Bangor City FC
Didier Drogba (CIV) — Chelsea FC (now at Shanghai Shenhua FC)
Cesc Fàbregas (ESP) — FC Barcelona
Falcao (COL) — Club Atlético de Madrid
Joe Hart (ENG) — Manchester City FC
Zlatan Ibrahimović (SWE) — AC Milan
Andrés Iniesta (ESP) — FC Barcelona
Shinji Kagawa (JPN) — Borussia Dortmund (now at Manchester United FC)
Vincent Kompany (BEL) — Manchester City FC
Frank Lampard (ENG) — Chelsea FC
Lionel Messi (ARG) — FC Barcelona
Luka Modrić (CRO) — Tottenham Hotspur FC
Mesut Özil (GER) — Real Madrid CF
Pepe (POR) — Real Madrid CF
Andrea Pirlo (ITA) — Juventus
Sergio Ramos (ESP) — Real Madrid CF
Raúl González (ESP) — FC Schalke 04 (now at al-Sadd Sports Club)
Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) — Real Madrid CF
Wayne Rooney (ENG) — Manchester United FC
David Silva (ESP) — Manchester City FC
Fernando Torres (ESP) — Chelsea FC
Yaya Touré (CIV) — Manchester City FC
Robin van Persie (NED) — Arsenal FC
Xavi Hernández (ESP) — FC Barcelona

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