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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chelsea players in FIFA Player of the Year nominees

It's good to know that six Chelsea players are among the 30 nominated for FIFA's world footballer of the year, which Brazilian Ronaldinho Gaucho is aiming to win for a record-tying third time.

Indeed, Petr Cech, goalkeeper at the English Premiership champion, is named along with midfielders Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Michael Ballack, and forwards Andriy Shevchenko and Didier Drogba for soccer's top individual honor.

We must remember that the coaches and captains of every national team will be asked to choose their top three players. FIFA will reveal the three with the most votes before announcing the winner in Zurich on Dec. 18.

Ronaldinho, who last season helped his team Barcelona clinch the Champions League and Spanish league titles, can become the first player to claim the FIFA award in three straight years. He edged Lampard and Barcelona teammate Samuel Eto'o to the crown last year.

Former France midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who retired after this year's World Cup and claimed the last of his three awards in 2003, is also listed, along with 2001 winner Luis Figo. Real Madrid's Brazilian forward Ronaldo, winner in 1996, 1997 and 2002, misses out.

IT's alos good to mention that other contenders include Arsenal trio Thierry Henry, Jens Lehmann and midfielder Tomas Rosicky, and Werder Bremen's German striker Miroslav Klose, top scorer at this year's World Cup with five goals. Fabio Cannavaro, who led Italy to the world title, is one of five footballers included from the nation's squad.

As we know, all 15 winners stretching back to Germany's Lothar Matthaeus in 1991 have claimed the award while playing for Spanish or Italian clubs. Seven awards have gone to Europeans and seven to South Americans, while African star George Weah of Liberia was Africa's only recipient, in 1995.

Adriano (Brazil)
Michael Ballack (Germany)
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Petr Cech (Czech Republic)
Deco (Portugal)
Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)
Michael Essien (Ghana)
Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon)
Luis Figo (Portugal)
Gennaro Gattuso (Italy)
Steven Gerrard (England)
Thierry Henry (France)
Kaka (Brazil)
Miroslav Klose (Germany)
Philipp Lahm (Germany)
Frank Lampard (England)
Jens Lehmann (Germany)
Alessandro Nesta (Italy)
Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
Franck Ribery (France)
Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina)
Ronaldinho (Brazil)
Wayne Rooney (England)
Tomas Rosicky (Czech Republic)
Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)
Lilian Thuram (France)
Patrick Vieira (France)
Zinedine Zidane (France).