Journalists, fans, experts and even players everywhere are always divided when the topic of the best player in the world comes up. Regardless of the sport the subject will always bring people down on different sides of the fence.
In football it is currently Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo which polarises opinion. In tennis it has recently been Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal. In the past there have been debates such as Ayrton Senna vs. Alain Prost in Formula One and even Brian Lara vs. Sachin Tendulkar in the cricketing world. What often tends to happen in these cases is one side seems to gain more official recognition whilst the other is left to rue the missed trophies and awards, despite having a genuine claim to being the greatest. In the example of Messi vs Ronaldo, the Argentine has won the last three Ballon d’Or titles whilst his Portuguese counterpart has just one, in 2008.
Hockey is no different to any other sport. Recently, Jamie Dwyer has stood head and shoulders above the rest, claiming the FIH World Player of the Year Award for each of the last three years, in addition to his titles in 2007 and 2004. Few could argue with Dwyer’s credentials to be hailed as not only the best around today, but one of the best of all time. He has won an Olympic gold (Athens 2004), a World Cup (2010) six Champions Trophies and three Commonwealth Games. He also has over 280 caps and more than 170 international goals to his name. His goal threat, work rate, speed and incredible technical ability make any side he plays for infinitely better. Spare a thought then, for the players he has bested in this FIH World Player of the Year category, most notably, Germany’s Moritz Fürste.
Fürste is a wonderful talent. At 6ft 3″ tall he is strong and powerful, yet at the same time manages to be graceful and elegant around the pitch. His technical ability and eye for goal are superb. The former UHC Hamburg star has displayed power, poise and grace on the hockey field on his way to over 200 international caps and 67 goals. The 28-year-old has been nominated the last two years, losing out to Dwyer on both occasions. Like so many of those players involved in the “Who’s the greatest” debate, it looked like Fürste was destined to remain a runner up and not scoop the grand individual prize.
The player himself will have taken solace in his two Olympic Gold medals (2008 and 2012) and his World Cup Winners medal (2006) not to mention his three Euro Hockey League titles (2008, 2010 and 2012), a competition where he was named Most Valuable Player twice, in 2008 and 2010. On the face of it, Fürste has had more than enough to celebrate during his career. Had he been born in a pre or post-Dwyer era, he would surely have collected the FIH World Player of the Year award a handful of times already. So this year, having inspired his team to the EHL Trophy for a third time and of course having collected the Olympic Gold, Fürste finally has his World Player of the Year Award.
I am sure there are those who believe Dwyer should have won it again this year. He has, after all still been a class act every time he has taken to the field. Some of his play at the Olympics in London was breathtaking. However, in my eyes, Fürste’s win is long overdue. He plays in an outstanding Germany team, but he also shines in that side. It is the mark of a true great when they catch the eye even when surrounded by superb players. The Club de Campo star certainly fits the criteria, no question. His medal haul is impressive, and having watched his teams play, he has been pivotal to that success, driving them forwards, scoring goals and creating them for his team mates.
Whether pro-Dwyer or pro-Fürste, you cannot argue the German is a worthy winner this time out. Hockey is very lucky to have been graced with two such outrageous talents at the same time. Dwyer has been great this year, as he is every year, meaning Fürste has had to be out of this world to finally get the better of the Australian star. Either would be worthy winners, but few would deny the German his long-awaited moment in the sun.