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Thomas Bender had a day to remember. The 18-year old defender from Colchester United was FIFPro’s special guest during the recent FIFA World Player of the Year Gala. He had a chance to meet several players of the FIFA FIFPro World XI.


'It is surreal’, said Bender, a Wales youth international himself. ‘One day I’m playing football with them on my Playstation, and now I’m meeting them here and have my photo taken with them. This is really a strange experience.’


FIFPro invited Bender because the young defender was the only professional footballer in the world, whose World XI was exactly the same as the FIFA FIFPro World XI that appeared on stage in Zurich: Iker Casillas, Maicon, Lúcio, Gerard Piqué, Carles Puyol. Wesley Sneijder, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi, David Villa and Cristiano Ronaldo.



‘FIFPro was delighted to have Thomas in Zürich as a representative of all footballers in the world’, said Bobby Barnes, FIFPro board member and deputy chief executive of the English PFA. He accompanied Bender on the trip to Switzerland.


Barnes: ‘The message that we can send out to all of the players voting around the world is, that your vote is just as important, whether you are playing for Colchester United or Rochdale, or Real Madrid or Manchester United. FIFPro is the international family of footballers.’


FIFPro also asked Thomas Bender to explain in front of the camera why he picked the eleven players in his FIFA FIFPro World XI. Although just 17 years of age, Bender proved he is no stranger to football and its most prominent players.