The football world is scratching its head this morning over the results of the FIFA World Player of the Year award, announced last night in a lavish ceremony in Milan. The surprise winner was Chelski bench-warmer Andriy Shevcenko following a season that saw the former AC Milan man play a pivotal part in the cub's near miss season, playing a staggering 25 matches, half of them as a substitute.
A clearly stunned Shevcenko had to be helped to his feet and escorted to the stage by a beaming roman Abramovich, where the 4 foot high trophy was presented by special guest, ex-Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a gushing 2 hour speech, Putin hailed Sheva's 'remarkable form' and described the player's 8 goal tally as an 'incredible feat for a striker'. He also found time to pay tribute to multi-trillionaire Chelski owner Abramovich:
"Roman does so much good for the reputation of Russia in this world. Andriy must thank him for bringing him to England and investing so heavily in him."
Amid much back-slapping and group hugging, the trio then left the stage and headed for the table of top FIFA officials where 3 seats were reserved for them. FIFA President, Fisch Batter, embraced a bewildered Shevcenko, poured him a glass of champagne and then hurried out to the hotel lobby with Abramovich and Putin. They returned a few minutes later flanked by aides of Abramovich all of whom carried black briefcases, which were distributed amongst the gathered officials at the table. Batter received four, and appeared delighted with the contents of the cases, which were later revealed to contain details of Chelski's plans to be registered as the International Academy for Success.
"I love my work!" Batter remarked jovially, when questioned about his reaction.
Runner up was Chelski captain, John Terry, who sobbed as his name was read out, and third place went to former Chelski striker, Didier Drogba, who collapsed dramatically to the floor clutching his trophy and, somewhat surprisingly, declared undying love for Abramovich, who was the instigator of Drogba's acrimonious move.
"Thank you, Roman!" he cried, turning in the direction of his former Boss. "This is for you!"
Abramovich responded by rubbing his thumb and forefinger together and, although unclear, mouthing something that looked rather like 'you owe me'.
The remainder of the evening was packed with incident, and saw an enraged Jose Mourhino ejected from the arena for heckling, as he continued to shout 'bullshit!' and 'big lies from the man with the roubles', despite warnings that he should stay quiet. He was joined in the hotel bar some minutes later by Manchester Uited boss, Lord Alex Ferguson, and a sobbing Cristiano Ronaldo, the 2-1 favourite to scoop the prestigious award. Ronaldo dramatically tore up his acceptance speech, declared himself as 'not understanding', then went to join the still weeping John Terry for a few bottles of champagne.
Ashley Cole received a special mention for 'services to fair play' and was presented with his trophy by a simpering Keith Hackett, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board who also clung onto a brown leather holdall for dear life.
More surprises came as the full results were read out, and eyebrows were again raised as firstly Gazza, then Maradona and Pele were mentioned. The situation only threatened to spiral out of control when George Best was placed at number 15, despite having been dead for three years. As rumblings around the room grew louder, a quick thinking and totally impartial Peter Kenyon, Chelski's Chief Executive, jumped to his feet and made an impassioned speech urging the gathered professionals to remember the beauty and drama Best brought to the game, adding that at Chelski 'we have a special place in our hearts for Georgie - he is the inspiration for the breathtaking and inspirational brand of football we play'. He then distributed copious amounts of champagne to all present, so the shock announcement was soon forgotten and the evening's shambles could continue.
The final results: World Player of the Year - A Shevchenko, Chelski; Runner up - John Terry, Chelski; 3rd - Didier Drogba, Inter Milan (formerly Chelski); 4th - L Smith (A Shevchenko's Boot-Boy), Chelski Youth Academy
Ronaldo placed at number 36, Brazilian wonder Kaka scraped in at number 48 and Lionel Messi of Barcelona warranted a mention somewhere in the low fifties.