Marta and Shannon Boxx might have finished as runners up to Birgit Prinz for the FIFA Women's Player of the Year award in Zurich this evening but both were happy to celebrate what has turned out to be an extraordinary twelve months for all three candidates.
At the Gala ceremony at the Zurich Opera House, Brazilian star Marta finished behind Prinz for the second consecutive year. However, the 19-year-old is hoping for bigger and better things to come in 2006.
"I am very happy to have been considered for this award and very, very happy to have been chosen as the second best player because I realize that it is incredibly difficult to get to this level," she said afterwards. "To be amongst the top three players in the world is a huge thing for any footballer - it is a prize in itself and a personal achievement for which I feel proud - so it doesn't really matter whether you finish first, second or third. I know that I still have a long way to go, step by step, I hope I will continue to improve."
The teenager from Dois Riachos added, "2005 was a very happy year for me even though I didn't manage to play as much with the senior national team as I would have liked, but my club Umeå won the Swedish championship for the second year running and we also qualified for next year's UEFA Women's Cup and so we will be facing the best and most important champions in the whole of Europe. So all in all I accomplished a lot and I can feel very happy with everything that happened to me.
"I am really looking forward to the New Year, in 2006 we have the U20 championship to look ahead to and that will be another opportunity for me to show my potential. I just hope that my team can continue to be as successful as it has been. And after that in 2007 we have the Women's World Cup so there is plenty for us to look forward to," she concluded.
Meanwhile USA's Shannon Boxx, who was voted the third best player of 2005 was ecstatic to have made the top three. "I'm very glad to be here. It was clear that Birgit would be the winner. It's an amazing accomplishment for her. She has been in the national team for eleven years. She is to Germany what Mia Hamm is to the United States. If she can promote the game on the women's side, that would be awesome. By winning it for the third time, her name is out there, and people will come to watch her play, her team and women's soccer in general.
"I'm almost coming out of nowhere to be here. We actually didn't have that many games. I've tried to get forward a lot more this year, and scoring helps a lot to be more recognised. A lot of my hard work has been noticed. After winning the Olympic Tournament, my biggest goal now is winning the World Cup. I want to win a gold medal in each tournament," she ended.