Tuesday October 25 2011
Di Natale is Italy's golden hope

Antonio Di Natale of Udinese is reportedly the only Italian in the 50-man shortlist for the 2011 Golden Ball.

The Stadio Friuli striker is included after ending the 2010-11 campaign as the Serie A top scorer for the second season running.

It remains to be seen whether the 34-year-old will make the cut when the list is reduced from 50 to 23 on November 1.

On December 5, the three finalists will be confirmed and the eventual winner will be handed the Golden Ball on January 9 in Zurich.

There is a lot of Barcelona and Spain in the initial selection. There are nine Barca players selected and five from Real Madrid.

Italy are more widely represented in the coaching award category though, where it is understood that Massimiliano Allegri of Milan, Manchester City's Roberto Mancini and England boss Fabio Capello have made the first list.

Barcelona ace Lionel Messi and Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho won the awards last season after the annual FIFA prizes were combined with France Football's Ballon d'Or.

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