The FIFA World Player Gala 2005 has reached its verdict; the talents of Ronaldinho and Birgit Prinz have been recognized for the second consecutive year. At the climax of a splendid evening on Monday 19 December at the Zurich Opera House on the theme of "Football meets dance", the two stars of world football were crowned ahead of, respectively, Frank Lampard and Samuel Eto'o and Marta and Shannon Boxx. Read on to discover how this evening of football and dance unfolded.
Watched by more than 1,000 guests gathered at Zurich's stunning Opera House, the master of ceremonies for the night was Ian Wright, the ex-Arsenal striker and a veteran of last year's awards, assisted this year by former Miss Switzerland, Lolita Morena. A first dance by the Zurich Ballet accompanied by the soloist Stanislav Jermakov got the show off to a flying start.
The first prize awarded was for Fair Play, with the town of Iquitos being rewarded for the formidable welcome it offered visitors at the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005 last autumn. Ivan Dibos, Peru's Minister of Sport, accepted the award personally and, with no little emotion, declared: "all Peruvians can now carry this great success. The new stadium is a symbol for us and the award is important for the Peruvian people."
After a presentation of the "Football For Hope" programme and the first pair of nominees for the main award, Shannon Boxx and Samuel Eto'o, came the prize-giving for the FIFA Interactive World Player Award 2005. Eighteen-year-old Chris Bullard received the trophy after winning the Grand Final of the competition just 24 hours previously.
It was then time to introduce Marta and Frank Lampard, the next two nominees for the FIFA World Player Award, followed by a two-step from Ana Carolina Quaresma and Dirk Segers. The Presidential Award was then announced, with Joseph S. Blatter coming on stage to present the honour to newly retired referee Anders Frisk .
The FIFA President remarked that he is: "still passionate about refereeing, as he is now becoming an instructor. It's a great honour for me to present him with this award." Frisk, as elegant as ever, was unable to suppress his emotion on this occasion.
"My heart is filled with joy and happiness; I'm deeply touched by this award. All these years I wanted to protect the game and the players. I truly hope that all those involved in football, players, refs, fans: always ask themselves what they can do for football."
The announcement of the final two nominees - Birgit Prinz and Ronaldinho- was followed by a review of 2005 which demonstrated just how packed with FIFA events this year has been: Netherlands 2005, Germany 2005, Peru 2005, Japan 2005, the FIFA Interactive World Cup, etc. Then, the big moment everyone had been awaiting was here at last!
As tradition dictates, the women's award came first. And for the third consecutive year, the German Birgit Prinz won the trophy . The European and German champion, who has demonstrated remarkable consistency, spoke of her joy at being the first triple-winner of the much coveted title: "I'd like to thank all who voted for me. More importantly, I would like to thank my teams - FFC Frankfurt and the German national team - because without my team-mates, this success would not be possible. Without a team nothing works in football."
There followed a short interlude animated by the Zurich Ballet, before the men's winner was revealed…with the winner being t he Brazilian Ronaldinho , making it a second consecutive title for the Spanish League champion and FIFA Confederations Cup winner in 2005. His face lit up by a trademark beaming smile, 'Ronnie's' delight was plain for all to see:
"I’d like to dedicate this prize to all my team-mates and to my family who have always been by my side even in hard times. I would also like to dedicate this prize to God, for giving me health and allowing me do what I love, which is play football and entertain the people."