I have compiled a list of my very personal best top-10 players of 2004:
10) Ludovic Giuly: Also had an amazing season on the right midfield of Monaco, making it all the way to the Champions League final. This got him a deserved spot in the French national team, and later on the rising Barcelona team, where he has continued strongly.
9) Arjen Robben: The young Dutchman has impressed me all year, first at PSV Eindhoven, and more so after his change to Chelsea. He was also one of the best in the Dutch team in Euro 2004, although I thought he was not given enough playing time.
8) Roy Makaay: The Dutch striker has been one of the keys to success of this season's returning Bayern Munich side. He continues being as poisonous as a rattle-snake in front of the goal.
7) Xavi: In my view, the best Spanish player this year. In the renewed Barcelona side, he has managed to become the fighting mid-field general, who can make beautiful passes as well as score beautiful goals.
6) Samuel Eto'o: Has proven he is one of the world's leading strikers, especially after his change from Mallorca to Barcelona. In Barcelona, with his speed and technique, he has been amazing.
5) Frank Lampard: has been excellent in Chelsea and in the English national team. He is a very complete player, who scores important goals, puts up a spirited fight and organizes well the game. If he continues next season, he will be one of the foremost players of the Premier League, as well as in Europe.
4) Deco: What a season it must have been for Deco! Was simply the amazing centerpiece of the FC Porto side that won the Champions League. After that, he changed to Barcelona, where he has been an important contribution to the rise of the Catalonians. He did not have a very good Euro 2004 though; in spite of Portugal making it to the final, Deco did not show the strength he had shown in FC Porto.
3) Andrij Schevchenko: A world class striker, who continues bombarding the goals in the Italian league, one of the hardest for strikers in the world. With AC Milan he has also been very strong in the Champions League, and I believe that he will continue to be one of the main striking forces of Europe next year.
2) Wayne Rooney: I was simply amazed by Mr. Rooney during the Euro 2004, when his amazing tenacity brought him forth as a superstar. And I thought the expectations were too high for the youngster when changing from Everton to Manchester United. But I was wrong, which Mr. Rooney showed in his very first Champions League match against Fenerbahce, scoring three beauiful goals. I hope he continues.
1) Ronaldinho: Maybe I need not say so, as so many have said it already: but Mr. Ronaldinho is certainly also my favourite player of 2004.
It has actually been hard for me to make the list, as there have been many great
players this season, whom I could easily have included on this list, like Ruud Van Nistelrooi, Dellas, Paulo Ferreira, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Baraja... So many great players!