Young Guns Battle for Top Award

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Kaká (Brazil and AC Milan), Lionel Messi (Argentina and Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal and Manchester United) are the three remaining candidates for the prestigious award after the field was narrowed down from the original list of 50 names put forward by FIFA.

This was done so after each national team coach and captain of associations within FIFA were given a vote each have their say.

Kaká (full name Ricardo Izecson Santos Leite) has had a tremendous year with Italian Serie A side AC Milan, and was the driving force behinf their victorious 2006/07 UEFA Champions League campaign.

The 25-year-old has already been recognised for that achievement when he was crowned European Footballer of the Year on December 2, ironically ahead of Ronaldo in second and Messi in third.

But don’t write-off the chances of his two opponents. Messi has been a revelation for club and country this year, and at the age of just 20 is perhaps the brightest young star on the planet.

Regarded by many as the ‘new Maradona’ (including by Maradona himself, who says Messi is the closest player he has seen to himself), he may not have had the glittering success of Kaká on the club seen, but continues to shine in a side filled with a galaxy of stars that includes Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o.

Ronaldo can point to a maiden English Premiership title with Manchester United when summing up his fine year. And there was no doubt he was the catalyst behind that as he finished second-top scorer in the League behind Chelsea’s Didier Drogba.

The 22-year-old (full name Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro) can play on either the right or the left of midfield, and has even been used as a second striker at Old Trafford.

Also being announced at the gala event will be Women’s Player of the Year, the FIFA Fair Play Award and Team of the Year Award.

PREVIOUS FIFA PLAYER OF THE YEAR WINNERS 1991 Lothar Matthaus (Internazionale – Germany) 1992 Marco Van Basten (AC Milan – Netherlands) 1993 Roberto Baggio (Juventus – Italy) 1994 Romario (FC Barcelona – Brazil) 1995 George Weah (AC Milan – Liberia) 1996 Ronaldo (PSV Eindhoven & FC Barcelona – Brazil) 1997 Ronaldo (FC Barcelona & Inter Milan – Brazil) 1998 Zinedine Zidane (Juventus – France) 1999 Rivaldo (FC Barcelona – Brazil) 2000 Zinedine Zidane (Juventus – France) 2001 Luis Figo (Real Madrid – Portugal) 2002 Ronaldo (Inter Milan & Real Madrid – Brazil) 2003 Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid – France) 2004 Ronaldinho (FC Barcelona – Brazil) 2005 Ronaldinho (FC Barcelona – Brazil) 2006 Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus & Real Madrid – Italy)

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