Italians lead the running for FIFA World Player award

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Berne (Switzerland) Oct 10:  Five members of Italy's 2006 World Cup winning side have been named on the 30-strong shortlist for FIFA's 2007 World Player of the Year award.

Last year's winner Fabio Cannavaro features once again alongside team-mates Gianluigi Buffon, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo.

England and France each have four nominations with Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and John Terry making up the English contingent.

Thierry Henry, twice a runner-up for the award, is joined by French colleagues Franck Ribery, Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira.

Ronaldinho's recent dip of form has not prevented the 2004 and 2005 award winner from making the list alongside fellow Brazilians Juninho and Kaka.

Kaka has already been named 2007 Player of the Year by the professional soccer players' union FIFPro.

The shortlist also features an Argentine trio of Lionel Messi, Juan Roman Riquelme and Carlos Tevez.

The list is drawn up by members of FIFA's technical committees and voted on by the coaches and captains of every national team.

The winner will be announced at FIFA's World Player Gala in Zurich on December 17.

FIFA World Player of the Year nominees (alphabetical order): Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Petr Cech (Czech Republic), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Deco (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Michael Essien (Ghana), Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon), Gennaro Gattuso (Italy), Steven Gerrard (England), Thierry Henry (France), Juninho (Brazil), Kaka (Brazil), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Frank Lampard (England), Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Alessandro Nesta (Italy), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Franck Ribery (France), Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina), Ronaldinho (Brazil), Wayne Rooney (England), John Terry (England), Carlos Tevez (Argentina), Lilian Thuram (France), Fernando Torres (Spain), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands), Patrick Vieira (France).

Reuters 
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