Football: Old Trafford men on award list

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The Independent Online
Five Britons, eight Germans and eight Italians were among the 50 players named by the organisers, France Football magazine, as candidates for this year's European Footballer of the Year award.

The Germans include the 1997 winner Matthias Sammer, Jurgen Kohler, Andreas Moller and Karlheinz Riedle - now with Liverpool - who were all in the Borussia Dortmund side that won the European Cup in May.

Portugal's Paulo Sousa, a fifth member of the European Cup-winning side, is also on the list, as is VfB Stuttgart's Bulgarian midfielder, Krassimir Balakov.

There are six members of the Juventus side beaten by Borussia, including the Frenchmen Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps, and the Italian striker Christian Vieri, now with Atletico Madrid. Other Italians in the list include Chelsea's Gianfranco Zola, Alessandro Del Piero, Enrico Chiesa and Filippo Inzaghi.

The trophy could go to a non-European for the second time in three years - the Liberian striker George Weah won in 1995 - as Internazionale's Brazilian, Ronaldo, the reigning world player of the year, is the favourite.

Ronaldo heads a group of six Brazilians including the Spanish-based Rivaldo, Sonny Anderson, Juninho and Roberto Carlos and the veteran former captain of Brazil, Rai of Paris St-Germain.

The South American entry is boosted by Fiorentina's Gabriel Batistuta and Hernan Crespo of Parma, the rivals for the main striker's role in Argentina's World Cup side.

But, despite the progress of African football and Weah's 1995 triumph, there is only one nominee from Africa - Monaco's Nigerian forward Victor Ikpeba, currently the top scorer in the French First Division. Weah, third in the Fifa poll in January, is not among the 50 after a poor year for his club, Milan.

Newcastle United's England striker Alan Shearer, second in the Fifa poll and third in the Golden Ball vote last year, has, like Sammer, had his season disrupted by injury, diminishing his chances of winning the vote.

Including the departed Ronaldo and Laurent Blanc, now with Marseilles, the club with the most nominations is Barcelona with eight.

Paulo Sousa, his compatriot Luis Figo of Barcelona and Manchester United's Welsh winger Ryan Giggs are the only nominees with no chance of playing in next year's World Cup finals in France. Both Portugal and Wales failed to qualify.

EUROPEAN FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR SHORTLIST: Anderson Monaco/Barcelona (Bra); Balakov VfB Stuttgart (Bul); Batistuta Fiorentina (Arg); Beckham Manchester Utd (Eng); Bergkamp Arsenal (Neth); Bierhoff Udinese (Ger); Blanc Barcelona/Marseilles (Fr); Chiesa Parma (It); Crespo Parma (Arg); De la Pena Barcelona (Sp); Del Piero Juventus (It); Deschamps Juventus (Fr); Djorkaeff Internazionale (Fr); Ferrara Juventus (It); Figo Barcelona (Por); Fowler Liverpool (Eng); Giggs Manchester Utd (Wal); Hassler Karlsruhe (Ger); Helmer Bayern Munich (Ger); Hierro Real Madrid (Sp); Ikpeba Monaco (Nigeria); Inzaghi Atalanta/Juventus (It); Juninho (Middlesbrough/Atletico Madrid (Bra); Kohler Borussia Dortmund (Ger); Martinez Barcelona (Sp); Mijatovic Real Madrid (Yug); Moller Borussia Dortmund (Ger); Pagliuca Internazionale (It); Paulo Sousa Borussia Dortmund (Por); Peruzzi Juventus (It); Pires Metz (Fr); Rai Paris St Germain (Bra); Gonzalez Real Madrid (Sp); Riedle Borussia Dortmund/Liverpool (Ger); Rivaldo Deportivo La Coruna/Barcelona (Bra); Carlos Real Madrid (Bra); Ronaldo Barcelona/Internazionale (Bra); Sammer Borussia Dortmund (Ger); Schmeichel Manchester Utd (Den); Seedorf Real Madrid (Neth); Sergi Barcelona (Sp); Shearer Newcastle Utd (Eng); Skammelsrud Rosenborg Trondheim (Nor); Suker Real Madrid (Croa); Thon Schalke 04 (Ger); Thuram Parma (Fr); Vieri Juventus/Atletico Madrid (It); Wright Arsenal (Eng); Zidane Juventus (Fr); Zola Parma/Chelsea (It).

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