French players dominated the inaugural UEFA.com users' Team of the Year as five earned places in a 2001 XI guided by compatriot Gérard Houllier.
Arsenal FC's Thierry Henry linked up with former AS Monaco FC team-mate David Trezeguet in attack − a double act that helped propel France to glory at UEFA EURO 2000. Zinédine Zidane was selected to play behind them in a year when he made his record-breaking €75m move from Juventus to Real Madrid CF, where his sparkling form had put the Spanish giants on course for UEFA Champions League success.
Arsenal's Patrick Vieira was named central midfielder and left-back Bixente Lizarazu completed the quintet after pipping Amedeo Carboni in a poll that attracted more than 3 million votes. Lizarazu played a key role as FC Bayern München savoured UEFA Champions League glory; as did Patrik Andersson, scorer of the goal that won them the Bundesliga title before he joined FC Barcelona in the summer.
Andersson was partnered in central defence by Sami Hyypiä, a talismanic figure as Houllier's Liverpool FC won five trophies in 2001. The highlight was their UEFA Cup triumph, when a goal three minutes before the end of extra time earned a remarkable 5-4 final victory over Deportivo Alavés. The Spanish side's Cosmin Contra, who switched to AC Milan that summer, was named Team of 2001 right-back.
Two of the UEFA Champions League losing finalists also made the cut, receiving the largest proportion of votes for any position: Valencia CF goalkeeper Santiago Cañizares and left midfielder Kily González. Manchester United FC's David Beckham beat competition from FIFA World Player of the Year Luís Figo to take up position on the opposite flank, helped by the last-gasp goal against Greece that booked England's 2002 FIFA World Cup place.
Houllier oversaw the talented blend after a year of incredible highs and lows. After leading Liverpool to UEFA Cup, FA Cup, English League Cup, UEFA Super Cup and FA Charity Shield success, the Frenchman underwent emergency heart surgery in October. He returned to the Anfield dugout in March 2002.
UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2001
GK: Santiago Cañizares (Valencia CF & Spain)
RB: Cosmin Contra (Deportivo Alavés/AC Milan & Romania)
CB: Sami Hyypiä (Liverpool FC & Finland)
CB: Patrik Andersson (FC Bayern München/FC Barcelona & Sweden)
LB: Bixente Lizarazu (FC Bayern München & France)
RM: David Beckham (Manchester United FC & England)
CM: Patrick Vieira (Arsenal FC & France)
AM: Zinédine Zidane (Juventus/Real Madrid CF & France)
LM: Kily González (Valencia CF & Argentina)
FW: Thierry Henry (Arsenal FC & France)
FW: David Trezeguet (Juventus & France)
Coach: Gérard Houllier (Liverpool FC)
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