IRELAND ARE DOWN one place to 22nd in the latest FIFA world rankings, despite their recent qualification for Euro2012.
Spain – Ireland’s group rivals next summer – remain in top spot while Giovanni Trapattoni’s side will also face two other members of the top 10; Croatia and Italy are eighth and ninth respectively.
Holland remain in second while Ireland’s World Cup 2014 qualification opponents Germany are third.
Poignantly, it’s also now clear that the Wales team managed by the late Gary Speed were the year’s biggest climbers, having moved into the top 50.
They rose from 116th to finish the year in 48th place under Speed’s stewardship. Speed died last month at the age of 42.
England finished the year in fifth place while Northern Ireland are up one spot to 88th.