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Ballon d’Or shortlist

Manuel Neuer named in world’s top three

Manuel Neuer is a hot candidate for football’s most prestigious personal award after the FC Bayern keeper made the final shortlist of three for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2014, the world governing body announced on Monday. The reigning World’s Best Keeper now takes on current holder Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and four-time winner Lionel Messi of Barcelona for the title of World Player of the Year. Both Spain-based players also made the last three in 2013.

“That’s wonderful news and a huge honour for me. There’s no guarantee a goalkeeper will ever be nominated,” Neuer told in a first reaction. “But to a very large extent, the credit has to go to my teams. We had a magnificent 2014 with FC Bayern and Germany and won trophies.”

Rummenigge: I’m delighted

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge expressed pleasure at the news. “I’m really delighted for Manuel Neuer,” the FCB chairman said, “he put in some outstanding performances at the World Cup, and also in the Champions League and Bundesliga, and he’s won things.” The fact that Arjen Robben failed to make the top three was “a shame,” Rummenigge continued. “It’s barely possible to play better than he has in the last year and a half.”

FIFA’s initial 23-strong list of contenders for the award included five more FC Bayern stars, namely World Cup winners Mario Götze, Philipp Lahm, Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Dutch ace Arjen Robben. After the initial poll among national team coaches and captains, Neuer not only represents Bayern in the final eliminator but also becomes the first goalkeeper to make the final list of three since Oliver Kahn in 2002.

Neuer will find out whether he has become the first keeper to win the Ballon d'Or since Lev Yashin in 1963 at the annual FIFA Gala at Zurich Kongresshaus on 12 January 2015.