Juan Sebastián Verón might have called an end to the European leg of his illustrious career a few years back, but he’s quality has not diminished one bit. One the eve of 2009, the former Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio, and Inter star was chosen as the South American Player of the Year by the Uruguayan daily El País.
Verón beat national team partner and former Villarreal playmaker Juan Román Riquelme by three votes. Riquelme comes off a very impressive second half of the year where his team won the Apertura tournament and the South American Recopa. He also won the Olympic gold medal with Argentina in Beijing.
Verón also beat last year’s winner, America (MEX) striker and Paraguayan international, Salvador Cabañas by 19. Another Argentine, Andrés D’Alessandro came out in fourth place despite leading Inter to the Copa Sudamericana title.
Liga de Quito goalkeeper José Cevallos, who was the hero in this year’s Copa Libertadores rounded out the top five. Cevallos was instrumental in the Ecuadorian side’s first-ever international title when he stopped three penalties in the tournament final against Brazilian side Fluminense.
Verón’s selection was controversial. Despite leading Estudiantes to the final of the Copa Sudamericana, he did not win any titles as compared to some of the players that ended up behind him in the results.