Being captain of your nation affords you certain opportunities closed to mere mortals or even your fellow teammates. As the year winds down, it also presents a chance to participate in voting for the Ballon d'Or winner and both Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger have weighed in on some of their choices for the 2013 installment of FIFA's biggest individual prize. Liverpool's captain and vice-captain don't quite see eye-to-eye on the inclusion of teammate Luis Suarez, though.
"I voted for him in my top three," Gerrard confirmed after double checking he was allowed to vote for Liverpool players. "I think everyone knows how much I rate him, I think we are very lucky to have him and we have to enjoy him while he's here. For me he is one of the top four or five players in the world, for sure."
Gerrard and Suarez have had an ongoing and very vocal love-in stemming from Suarez's failed attempt to move to Arsenal last summer, so it's not surprising to see the Uruguayan on Gerrard's list. Agger, on the other hand, didn't find room for Suarez in his own top three.
"Zlatan has been impressive, especially this past year, I must admit," Agger told Ekstra Bladet (via an amazing Google translation). "But beyond him, well, then Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been in a class by themselves. I have not thought about it before now. But when I have to give my vote, it will be a mixture of what has been achieved with the team and as an individual."
That national team captains often, somewhat unimaginatively, vote for Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and some other guy they know personally is what adds a dramatic shocking twist to Agger's choices. (See also Steven Gerrard's 2012 votes: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Xabi Alonso). While Gerrard didn't reveal his second and third picks for this year, it would probably be a safe bet to assume he also included Messi and Ronaldo for the second year in a row.
Banishment aside, Suarez had an excellent year for both club and country, and would be a perfectly legitimate choice for the top three regardless of one's personal affiliation with the Uruguayan. Suarez's personal baggage probably puts him well outside of the other fringe contenders despite his performances, but like they say on the red carpet at the Oscars, it's an honour just to be nominated.