A year of surprises in European football is reflected in the uefa.com users' Team of 2004 which was announced today.
New faces - plus Henry
Over 1.2 million votes were cast by uefa.com users for the fourth edition of the awards, and the resulting selection showcases a new wave of European football superstars. While Arsenal FC's French forward Thierry Henry continues his record of being picked every year since the awards' inception in 2001, six of the team are honoured for the first time.
The side features two players who were part of FC Porto's UEFA Champions League-winning team in midfielder Maniche and defender Ricardo Carvalho. In addition, coach José Mourinho, who guided Porto to glory before moving to Chelsea FC, is chosen for the second successive year. Manchester United FC prodigy Cristiano Ronaldo brings the Portuguese contingent to four with his selection on the right of midfield.
The high Portuguese presence reflects Porto's success, as well as Portugal's achievement in finishing runners-up at UEFA EURO 2004™. Surprisingly, however, there are no players from EURO 2004™ victors Greece in the final XI, underlining that their breakthrough success was a triumph of team strength over individual brilliance.
Perennial choice Henry is joined in attack by Ballon d'Or winner Andriy Shevchenko. His AC Milan colleague Alessandro Nesta is selected for the third year running, while Juventus FC pair Gianluigi Buffon and Pavel Nedved are honoured for the second year in a row.
Newcomers in defence
Among the new faces are veteran right-back Cafu, Arsenal FC and England left-back Ashley Cole, and FC Barcelona and Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho, who scooped over half of the votes in the star-studded attacking midfield player category, leaving club-mate Deco trailing in his wake.
As for Deco's former team-mate Maniche, his star turns in Porto's Champions League and Portugal's EURO 2004™ exploits helped him edge out Liverpool FC talisman Steven Gerrard in the central midfield slot.
uefa.com users' Team of 2004:
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus FC and Italy), Cafu (AC Milan), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea FC and Portugal), Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan and Italy), Ashley Cole (Arsenal FC and England), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United FC and Portugal), Maniche (FC Porto and Portugal), Ronaldinho (FC Barcelona), Pavel Nedved (Juventus FC and Czech Republic), Thierry Henry (Arsenal FC and France), Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan and Ukraine). José Mourinho (Chelsea FC).
uefa.com users' Team of 2003:
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus FC), Paulo Ferreira (FC Porto) Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan), Paolo Maldini (AC Milan), Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid CF), Luís Figo (Real Madrid CF), David Beckham (Real Madrid CF), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid CF), Pavel Nedved (Juventus FC), Thierry Henry (Arsenal FC), Ruud van Nistelrooij (Manchester United FC). José Mourinho (FC Porto).
uefa.com users' Team of 2002:
Rüstu Reçber (Fenerbahçe SK), Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona), Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan), Cristian Chivu (AFC Ajax), Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid CF), Clarence Seedorf (AC Milan), Michael Ballack (FC Bayern München), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid CF), Damien Duff (Blackburn Rovers FC), Thierry Henry (Arsenal FC), Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF). Senol Günes (Turkey).
uefa.com users' Team of 2001:
Santiago Cañizares (Valencia CF), Cosmin Contra (Deportivo Alavés), Sami Hyypiä (Liverpool FC), Patrik Andersson (FC Barcelona), Bixente Lizarazu (FC Bayern München), David Beckham (Manchester United FC), Patrick Vieira (Arsenal FC), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid CF), Kily González (Valencia CF), Thierry Henry (Arsenal FC), David Trezeguet (Juventus FC). Gérard Houllier (Liverpool FC).
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