The 2004 UEFA.com users' Team of the Year reflected the return to prominence of Portugal as the UEFA EURO 2004 runners-up provided three players to a XI coached by José Mourinho.
A memorable summer for Portuguese football began in May when FC Porto, having retained their Liga title, beat AS Monaco FC 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League final in what was Mourinho's last game before taking over at the Chelsea FC helm. Celebrations had barely subsided when, 17 days later, the UEFA European Championships kicked off at the Estádio do Dragão. After an early hiccup against Greece the hosts went all the way to the final before coming unstuck against Otto Rehhagel's men once again.
Surprisingly, there were no players from UEFA EURO 2004 victors Greece in the Team of the Year, underlining that their breakthrough success was a triumph of collective strength over individual brilliance. There was no shortage of Portuguese, however, as Porto pair Maniche and Ricardo Carvalho (who joined Mourinho at Chelsea in the summer) were selected at the heart of the midfield and defence. Manchester United FC's Cristiano Ronaldo brought that contingent to four with his selection on the right wing.
Pavel Nedvěd was on the opposite flank as he and Juventus team-mate Gianluigi Buffon, the Italy goalkeeper, retained their places in the XI while AC Milan centre-back Alessandro Nesta was selected for the third year running. Arsenal FC's Thierry Henry continued his record of being picked every year since the awards' inception in 2001, and was joined in attack by Ballon d'Or winner Andriy Shevchenko.
A third Milan player, veteran right-back Cafu, also made the team despite the Rossoneri's UEFA Champions League defence ending at the quarter-final stage – the Scudetto brought some consolation. Among the other newcomers were Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole, and playmaker Ronaldinho, who scooped over half of the votes in the attacking midfield player category, leaving FC Barcelona club-mate Deco trailing in his wake.
UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2004
GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy)
RB: Cafu (AC Milan & Brazil)
CB: Ricardo Carvalho (FC Porto/Chelsea FC & Portugal)
CB: Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan & Italy)
LB: Ashley Cole (Arsenal FC & England)
RM: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United FC & Portugal)
CM: Maniche (FC Porto & Portugal)
AM: Ronaldinho (FC Barcelona & Brazil)
LM: Pavel Nedvěd (Juventus & Czech Republic)
FW: Thierry Henry (Arsenal FC & France)
FW: Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan & Ukraine)
Coach: José Mourinho (FC Porto/Chelsea FC)
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