Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have between them won the past six world player of the year awards, face opposition from Germany’s World Cup winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in the short list announced by FIFA on Monday.
Ronaldo, who is the present holder of the title having also won it in 2008, scored a record 17 goals in a Champions League campaign as Real Madrid went on to win their 10th European Cup last term.
Messi, the only player to have won the award four times, failed to win a title this year either with Barcelona or Argentina, although he was integral in his country reaching the World Cup final where they lost 1-0 in extra-time to Germany.
The 27-year-old did pick up the consolation of player of the tournament.
Neuer, who was outstanding in goal for Germany and for Bayern Munich as they won the domestic double, would be only the second goalkeeper to win the award, which is announced on January 12 in Zurich, after the then Soviet Union’s Lev Yashin.
Coach of the year is to be fought out between Neuer’s national coach Joachim Loew, Ronaldo’s club handler Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone, who guided the far less moneyed Atletico Madrid to the Spanish title and the final of the Champions League.
The trio selected for the Puskas award for best goal are Colombia’s James Rodriguez, for his goal against Uruguay in the 2-0 victory in their World Cup last 16 clash, Robin van Persie’s leaping header against Spain in their World Cup group game and outsider Irish woman Stephanie Roche for her goal for Peamount United against Wexford Youths in October 20, 2013.
Roche doesn’t make the women’s player of the year shortlist which consists of Brazil’s five-time winner Marta, Germany’s European player od the 2013-14 season Nadine Kessler and America’s all-time record goalscorer Abby Warmbach, winner in 2012.
Japan’s Asian coach of the year Norio Sasaki, who has been in charge of her national side since 2007, Ralf Kellermann, who guided VfL Wolfsburg to the women’s Champions League title and his compatriot Maren Meinert, who coached the German Under-20 team to their age category global title, are in line for the women’s coach of the year crown.