Fernando Morientes, Deco and Ricardo Carvalho are nominated at tonight's UEFA European Football Awards.
Most Valuable Player
Morientes, on loan from Real Madrid CF, scored nine goals for AS Monaco FC en route to last season's Champions League final where they lost to a Porto side containing Ricardo Carvalho and Deco. That pair compete against the Spanish international for the Most Valuable Player award, open to those who progressed beyond the Champions League group stage. This and the rest of the prizes will be handed out at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club in the awards' seventh edition.
Even if Morientes is pipped as MVP, he is also nominated as best forward alongside Arsenal FC's Thierry Henry, whose 30 English Premiership goals earned him the ESM Golden Shoe for 2003/04. The third striking nominee is AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko, who scored the decider 12 months ago in the UEFA Super Cup against Porto.
Deco is on the shortlist for best midfielder. The inspirational playmaker, now with FC Barcelona having signed the day after representing Portugal in the UEFA EURO 2004™ final, is in contention with two English-based players - Patrick Vieira of Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC's Frank Lampard.
Lampard's new club-mate, €30m signing Ricardo Carvalho, is one of three men contesting the best defender prize. Carvalho was a rock for Porto and Portugal in their thrilling European runs last season, but faces competition from international team-mate Jorge Andrade of RC Deportivo La Coruña and Monaco left-back Patrice Evra.
Another Porto player, Vítor Baía, is up for best goalkeeper. Iker Casillas's consistently excellent shot-stopping for Madrid has earned him a nomination, along with Juventus FC's Gianluigi Buffon, who has maintained the form that saw him named Most Valuable Player for 2003.
Among the other awards to be presented are the EURO 2004™ Player of the Tournament accolade to Greece's Theodoros Zagorakis and special gongs for the winning coaches in the Champions League, UEFA Cup and EURO 2004™ - José Mourinho, Rafael Benítez and Otto Rehhagel.
The 2004 European Football Awards shortlist in full:
Best Goalkeeper: Vítor Baía (FC Porto), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus FC), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF)
Best Defender: Jorge Andrade (RC Deportivo La Coruña), Ricardo Carvalho (FC Porto/Chelsea FC), Patrice Evra (AS Monaco FC)
Best Midfielder: Deco (FC Porto/FC Barcelona), Frank Lampard (Chelsea FC), Patrick Vieira (Arsenal FC)
Best Forward: Thierry Henry (Arsenal FC), Fernando Morientes (AS Monaco FC/Real Madrid CF), Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan)