Mohamed Aboutreika of Egypt is still the most popular player of the World !
The year 2008 saw the third annual IFFHS user vote for the world's most popular football player, with a total of 1,384,610 from 190 countries casting their votes. IFFHS had provided a list of 100 candidates from all six continents.
The 30-year-old Egyptian Mohamed Aboutreika, a brilliant technician and playmaker, who is also dangerous in front of goal with Al-Ahly Caiso and the Egyptian national team, led both teams to the victory in the continental championship on club and selected level in 2008. He is a pleasant and modest player, who in spite of offers not left his home country. Mohamed Aboutreika is the great idol of the Egyptian football and undoubtedly the best footballer in the Arab world. Being voted in 2008, for the 2nd time in succession, as the World‘s most Popular Footballer amongst active Players is confirmation of his popularity beyond national boundaries.
In second is one-time leader, 29-year-old Óscar David Suazo from Honduras, who from 1999 to 2008 in Italy for Cagliari Calcio and FC Internazionale Milan scored more than 100 league goals, and played for Sport Lisboa e Benfica in the meantime. He attracted much support from the whole of Central America and is clearly the pride of this region.
The players in the following seven places have, despite their abilities, remained in their home countries and as a rule have stayed loyal to their clubs over many years. That applies above all to the two Brazilian goalkeepers, who belong to two clubs in São Paulo. The 35-year-old Marcos Roberto Silveira Reis has played for Palmeiras since 1992 and in 2002 became a World Champion with Brazil. The other is the captain of the Brazilian champions São Paulo FC, Rogério Ceni (born 22.1.1973), who has been with this club since 1990 and is a world record-holder (83 goals to his name to date). Splitting the two goalkeepers is the 30-year-old captain and goalgetter of Al-Merreikh Omdurman and the national team, Faisal Agab Sido. He is the most successful goal scorer ever in Sudanese football.
Apart from Aboutreika and Rogério, the 26-year-old Yasser Al-Qahtani, an elegant and popular attacking player with Al-Hilal FC Riyadh and Saudi Arabia, again features in the "Top 10", along with the two Turks, Arda Turan and Semih Şentürk. The two most popular Mexican footballers are two goalkeepers (Guillermo Ochoa & Oswaldo Javier Sánchez) who continue to play in their the home country. After the Russian Andrey Arshavin in the late autumn annouced that he wished to move to a foreign country, he received only a few more votes. Alessandro Del Piero is Italy‘s, Iker Casillas is Spain‘s and Alireza Nikbakht Vahedi Iran‘s most popular footballer for the year 2008.
All this shows that sporting performance is only one aspect in this category of most popular player. Loyalty to a club over many years and a commitment to remain in the home country – often turning down big money - are serious factors. This results in a great difference between the achievement-orientated top footballers (FIFA Players) and the most popular players (IFFHS user voting).