Kaka, front-runner for player of the year award

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Berne (Switzerland): AC Milan and Brazil playmaker Kaka is widely expected to add to his haul of trophies and titles this season when FIFA announce their World Player of the Year at Monday's annual gala in Zurich.

Kaka, who is due to fly to Switzerland following AC Milan's appearance in Sunday's Club World Cup final, faces competition from Manchester United's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Argentine striker Lionel Messi. The trio were selected as this year's top three players in a poll of national team coaches and captains but the order in which they were chosen will only be revealed on Monday. Kaka, who helped steer his club to the 2007 Champions League title, is seen as a strong favourite after already picking up a clutch of individual honours this year.

Earlier this month he received the prestigious Ballon d'Or award handed out by France Football magazine following a survey of sports journalists around the world. The Ballon d'Or winner has gone on to pick up FIFA's World Player award in six of the past 10 years.

Kaka was also named World Player of the Year this month by British magazine World Soccer, following a poll of fans in 48 countries.

Additional honours have included UEFA's Club Footballer of the Year, Champions League Best Forward and Champions League Top Scorer awards and the FIFPro World Player of the Year title, voted on by Kaka's fellow professionals.

Kaka has modestly suggested that his haul of titles this year is mainly due to his club's Champions League success, telling France Football after picking up the Ballon d'Or, "that is key. You have to play in a winning side."

In reality the FIFA award seems to be based as much upon an individual's efforts and skills as the achievements of his team -- if Kaka does win on Monday, he will become the first player in the award's 17-year history to win the title and the Champions League final in the same year.

All 16 of the previous winners were based at European clubs when they picked up the World Player title but Kaka's compatriot Ronaldo is the only player to have won the award in the same year as playing at a Champions League winning club.

Ronaldo failed to do the Champions League and World Player double however as he personally missed out on Real Madrid's successful 2002 European campaign through injury.

Monday's award also offers national coaches a chance to prove their skills at identifying the best players, with FIFA publishing all of the individual votes immediately after the gala.

Former England coach Steve McClaren was the only trainer to correctly pick all three top players in the correct order last year, and will be able to try his luck again on Monday.

The voting forms were sent out to the various coaches before McClaren was fired as England coach and FIFA have confirmed that his nominations were returned before his dismissal.

One India 
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