Football's world governing body FIFA has released its list of 30 men and 20 women players who are nominated for World Player of the Year.
Five are from World Cup champion Italy and five from runner-up France, including Zinedine Zidane. Zidane retired after the World Cup in Germany, where he was ejected in the title match for head-butting Italian Marco Materazzi in the chest.
Heading the Italian nominations are Fabio Cannavaro and Andrea Pirlo, two of the best performers at the World Cup. The only nominee on the list whose team did not compete in the World Cup is Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon, who plays professionally for the Spanish club Barcelona.
A favorite once again is Brazil's Ronaldinho, who has won the title the past two years.
As for the women's award, Birgit Prinz will not win it for a fourth consecutive time as she was left off the list this year, despite earning the women's award as best player in Germany for the sixth straight year. Americans Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach were nominated, as well as China's Ma Xiaoxu, who was the top scorer and named best player at the under-20 women's world football championship in Russia last month.
Coaches and captains of men's and women's national teams around the world will be eligible to vote, and FIFA will announce the three male and three female players with the most votes in early December. The winners will then be chosen from those finalists and presented with the awards at the Zurich Opera House on December 18.
Here are the FIFA World Player of the Year award nominees and their affiliations, in alphabetical order:
Adriano (Brazil, Inter Milan)
Michael Ballack (Germany, Chelsea)
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus)
Fabio Cannavaro (Italy, Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Manchester United)
Petr Cech (Czech Republic, Chelsea)
Deco (Portugal, FC Barcelona)
Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea)
Michael Essien (Ghana, Chelsea)
Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon, FC Barcelona)
Luis Figo (Portugal, Inter Milan)
Gennaro Gattuso (Italy, AC Milan)
Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool)
Thierry Henry (France, Arsenal)
Kaka (Brazil, AC Milan)
Miroslav Klose (Germany, Werder Bremen)
Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich)
Frank Lampard (England, Chelsea)
Jens Lehmann (Germany, Arsenal)
Alessandro Nesta (Italy, AC Milan)
Andrea Pirlo (Italy, AC Milan)
Franck Ribery (France, Marseille)
Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina, Villarreal)
Ronaldinho (Brazil, FC Barcelona)
Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United)
Tomas Rosicky (Czech Republic, Arsenal)
Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine, Chelsea)
Lilian Thuram (France, FC Barcelona)
Patrick Vieira (France, Inter Milan)
Zinedine Zidane (France, retired)
Laura Georges (France)
Duan Han (China)
Laura Kalmari (Finland)
Kristine Lilly (United States)
Renate Lingor (Germany)
Xiaoxu Ma (China)
Malin Mostrom (Sweden)
Monica Ocampo (Mexico)
Cathrine Paaske Sorensen (Denmark)
Kum Suk-ri (South Korea)
Silke Rottenberg (Germany)
Cheryl Salisbury (Australia)
Lotta Schelin (Sweden)
Christine Sinclair (Canada)
Kelly Smith (England)
Sandrine Soubeyrand (France)
Ingvild Stensland (Norway)
Cynthia Uwak (Nigeria)
Abby Wambach (United States) Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.