The polls have closed, the votes have been counted and finally we are proud to announce who makes up the uefa.com users' Team of the Year for 2002.
It was e-democracy in action as players who impressed in the FIFA World Cup finals in the summer and in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup were given their just reward. In all, 900,000 votes from across the globe decided the squad selection.
Perhaps the biggest winners of the competition were Real Madrid CF players Roberto Carlos and Zinedine Zidane who claimed a huge share of the vote in their respective positions.
With 54 per cent of the votes for the left-sided defender slot, World Cup and Champions League winner Roberto Carlos was the first player on the team-sheet, and with 44 per cent of the attacking midfield vote, his Santiago Bernabeú team-mate Zidane was not far behind.
Zidane was joined in the final side by Arsenal FC's Thierry Henry, his international team-mate, and the two Frenchman were the only players to make the Team of the Year for the second year in succession, showing that uefa.com users' know consistency and class when they see it.
However, perhaps more exciting were the newcomers to the team - a reflection of the changing shape of football In Europe. Firstly, uefa.com users took their opportunity to salute Turkey's scintillating display in the World Cup finals with goalkeeper Rüstu Reçber and team coach Senol Günes taking pride of place in the starting lineup ahead of stiff competition from their German counterparts, Oliver Kahn and Rudi Völler.
That German side, runners-up in Korea/Japan, was represented in the Team of the Year by the one player whose absence from the final through suspension could have changed his side's fortunes, midfielder Michael Ballack.
World Cup achievers
Other World Cup heroes given their just desserts were Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff, who capped a fine year of football with Blackburn Rovers FC, and Ronaldo whose eight goals at the finals won him the Golden Shoe and a place in the heart of uefa.com users.
However, domestic form proved just as important as several players absent from the World Cup finals made their way into the Team of the Year. Evergreen midfield player Clarence Seedorf experienced disappointment with the Netherlands but was in inspiring form for AC Milan and, previously, Internazionale FC, and his team-mate Alessandro Nesta joined him in the squad. Elsewhere in defence, FC Barcelona's Spanish international Carlos Puyol was a beacon of hope for the Catalan side.
A more unfamiliar name to many is AFC Ajax's Romanian defender Cristian Chivu whose role in the Dutch side's league and cup double and burgeoning reputation as one of Europe's finest young players ensured his place in the team.
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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