Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona)
"This kid will retire me," Pep Guardiola said of Xavi when the Barcelona coach was nearing the end of his days as the team’s midfield metronome. Guardiola noted Xavi’s rich promise then; now he is reaping the full benefits of a talent in its prime. Fresh from guiding his country to UEFA EURO 2008™ glory, the 29-year-old Camp Nou playmaker conquered Europe with his club. His display in the UEFA Champions League final underlined his season-long excellence as, besides orchestrating what Manchester United FC boss Sir Alex Ferguson called Barcelona's "passing carousel", he set up the clinching second goal for Lionel Messi with a precise far-post cross. "This is an honour," Xavi said of his award. "It's very important on an individual level. It's a sign things have gone well, that people have really appreciated my football. I believe I'm at the best club in the world for me, with the best vision of football – I know I owe a lot to Barcelona."
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC)
Liverpool's captain may not have ended the season with silverware but it was not through want of trying as the Merseysiders pushed Manchester United FC harder than for many years. Gerrard shone in a second-striker role behind Fernando Torres, hitting 24 goals – seven of them in the UEFA Champions League plus a career-best 16 in the Premier League. The highlight of his campaign was the week in March when he struck twice in a 4-0 rout of Real Madrid CF and then found the net again as Liverpool crushed United 4-1 at Old Trafford.
Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona)
The man from La Mancha may shun the spotlight but there was no escaping it after his dazzling contribution to Barcelona's treble-winning campaign. His masterful movement, his ability to create space and find a pass meant the Azulgrana's midfield opponents had much more than Xavi Hernández to worry about. Indeed coach Pep Guardiola called him "the best player I have ever seen" and Wayne Rooney repeated the message after the UEFA Champions League final – a match Barcelona were only in, remember, thanks to Iniesta's superbly driven, last-gasp goal at Chelsea FC in the semi-final.
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