"I am afraid I would not get a place in such an excellent lineup." That was the verdict of Vladimir Šmicer after selecting his side for the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2013.
Unsurprisingly after their outstanding 12 months, the biggest representation in the former Czech international's lineup comes from FC Bayern München, who have four nominees, while Real Madrid CF boast three members of the Šmicer XI. "I have picked a lot of Bayern players simply because they deserve it for the superb season they had," said the 40-year-old, himself a former UEFA Champions League winner.
View Šmicer's choices below and submit your own selection before 13.00CET on Thursday 9 January.
Manuel Neuer: Not only has he won all those trophies with Bayern, he very significantly contributed to their success. He made countless great saves to defend his goal, yet also played superbly with his feet. He fits perfectly into the team and is almost like a libero.
Sergio Ramos: He is my pick for the right of the defence. There are definitely more offensive players than him, but he is still an aggressive – unpleasant even – defender to play against, and dangerous too from set pieces.
Thiago Silva: In the centre I have chosen a Brazilian defender who is a great personality and does a brilliant job for Paris Saint-Germain. They must be delighted with him. He has had an excellent season.
Vincent Kompany: The other central defender is a clear choice for me. I have been following his performances in England while he also helped Belgium qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He is a leader and plays a key role. That is why I chose him.
David Alaba: On the left would be Alaba. His displays this year were a revelation for me as I did not expect him to do so well. He was in the team that won everything. He is an athletic footballer, fast and with good passing. I like this sort of full-back.
Franck Ribéry: He must be in my lineup given his performances for Bayern. He has great technical skill and speed. I saw how he played in the UEFA Super Cup in Prague and it was simply superb from him. He does not score as often as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is a very important player.
Gareth Bale: His exploits at Tottenham Hotspur FC catapulted him to Real Madrid. He is the most expensive player in the world and that cannot happen after a bad season. It was a fantastic year for him – some of his goals in the Premiership were incredible, his finishing is superb.
Bastian Schweinsteiger: He is always in the right place, whenever necessary. He is the heart of Bayern – the fans like him, he plays technically, he directs the play in the right way. What Xavi Hernández is for Barcelona, he is for Bayern. I have picked a lot of players from Bayern, but it is simply because they deserve it. Their season was one that nobody had before.
Cristiano Ronaldo: There is not much thinking to do with regard to the attack. Ronaldo's performances have been excellent. He scored goals and fired Portugal to the World Cup. He and Messi are the two best players in the world for me right now.
Lionel Messi: He is a different type of player to Ronaldo, but when he has the ball he is unstoppable. I admire his acceleration, dribbling and dummy moves. He is impossible to defend against.
Zlatan Ibrahimović: He may be slightly in the shadow of Messi and Ronaldo, but his displays for Paris prove he is one of the best footballers in the world. He has had a great season with Sweden too, though it was not enough against Portugal. He is a key player for club and country.