Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole has received the highest praise from manager Carlo Ancelotti, who claims the defender is the ''best in the world'' and should have been on FIFA's Ballon d'Or shortlist.
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Cole has enjoyed great success at Chelsea and has been a crucial part of their rise over the past few years. However, defenders are always in short supply at FIFA's award ceremonies (with Fabio Cannavaro the only man to have lifted the prize in recent times) and only four made it into this year's 23-man list.
Ancelotti, though, has hailed the 29-year-old as one of the top defenders in the game and compared his situation to that of Italian legend Paolo Maldini who also struggled to win the prestigious title.
"Everyone can see that Ashley Cole is the best left-back in the world," he told the Guardian. "Every year it is difficult for a defender to be on the list for the Ballon d'Or because usually it is just for strikers and midfielders.
"In his career Maldini deserved to win the award but the only reason he didn't was that he was a defender. Cole played with extraordinary quality for us last season, both defensively and when scoring goals and making assists.
"Cole and Maldini are different players because they have different bodies and different skills but professionally and in terms of personality they are the same. They have the same passion for the job."