Number three in our list of the Top 50 Players in the World is treble a winning midfielder, who only added a World Cup final to his list of 2010 accomplishments last summer. Our Italian blogger Richard Chambers tells us about the phenomenal year had be Wesley Sneijder.
A Serie A title, a Coppa Italia, a Champions League medal, a spot in the World Cup Final and a multitude of individual honours – Wesley Sneijder had a year to rival those of any of football’s greatest ever players.
The swaggering Dutch midfielder began his year in appropriately spectacular fashion with two glorious free-kicks in the league against Siena.
His success in the league was not merely limited to his specialization at set pieces. Underneath the exterior of a brash, arrogant personality lies a competitive and hard-working athlete who can win games in so many ways.
Sneijder carries a relentless work effort around the field and harries opponents. Sometimes he oversteps the mark, as was the case in the Milan derby in January 2010 in which he was sent off.
Nevertheless, Alongside Cambiasso, Thiago Motta and Zanetti he formed a midfield corps which was more effective than it has yet been given credit for.
Sneijder’s passing, both long and short range, is as accurate as any player besides Xavi Hernandez. This gift, perhaps honed in the famed academy of Ajax, gained a lethal edge with Mourinho’s Inter. Sneijder sat just behind the usual forward trio of Eto’o, Milito and Pandev and slid fast paced passes through defensive lines and around improbable angles to devastating effect.
The interdependence between Sneijder and the front three was a common theme in 2010. Knocked down headers from Milito and Eto’o to the Dutch maestro became a common route to goal for the Italian champions. Milito’s opening goal in the Champions League final being the most prominent example of the tremendous understanding between Sneijder and his teammates.
His contribution throughout the entire Champions League campaign was truly remarkable. His performances against Chelsea, CSKA Moscow and Barcelona at the San Siro were sumptuous displays of precision and vision.
Sneijder has developed something of a reputation as a goalscorer based on his exploits in South Africa, where he notched an impressive, yet somewhat fortuitous tally of five goals.
Were it not for his exceptional talents, there is little doubt that Holland would not have progressed much further than the Quarter Finals let alone to the final itself. Sneijder was subdued in the final against Spain, who controlled possession in a way he would have had no problems fitting in with.
The reputation the Oranje class of 2010 developed for being an ugly, methodical team with more muscle than craft is not fair to Sneijder.
The year, just like the World Cup, ended disappointingly for Sneijder, who was injured during the Club World Cup Semi Final. He finally made his return for Inter in February, in the process scoring a goal. The lift he is likely to give Inter is immeasurable and could be the catalyst for another round of trophies for the Nerazzurri.