In just over a month, the winner of the tenth FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year will be revealed. Only three players have claimed the prestigious honour, and two of these star names are again in the running. Brazil Marta’s has been crowned for the last four years, with Germany’s Birgit Prinz collecting the three previous awards. FIFA.com takes a look at the ten elite female players in contention to be crowned the best on the planet for 2010.
Camille Abily (France)
It has been a hugely successful year for midfielder Camille Abily at both club and international level. The Rennes-born 25-year-old was a regular as FC Gold Pride cruised to the prestigious WPS crown and was also a central figure as France reached the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ for just the second time.
Fatmire Bajramaj (Germany)
The hard-running Bajramaj, often viewed as the glamour girl of German football, is rarely found wanting on the pitch. Though still just 22, Bajramaj already has five years' experience with the national team under her belt and is in line to appear in her second FIFA Women’s World Cup. This has been yet another year to remember, with Bajramaj a vital component in the Turbine Potsdam side which claimed a Bundesliga-UEFA Women’s Champions League double.
So Yun-Ji (Korea Republic)
With stunning close control and a sharp turn of pace, teenager Ji So-Yun is the quintessential modern Asian player. Deployed as an attacking midfielder, Ji mesmerised opponents during this year's FIFA Women's U-20 World Cup in Germany. The 19-year-old scored eight times to almost single-handedly secure Korea Republic the bronze medal, and her efforts were later recognised with the tournament's adidas Silver Ball.
The last 12 months has brought yet more silverware for a player who, at 24, is already established as a true phenomenon. The highly-skilful and free-scoring forward led FC Gold Pride to the WPS title, and in doing so claimed the league’s golden boot and best player awards for a second season in succession. Marta has also excelled on the international stage. Just last month the four-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year helped Brazil book their ticket to Germany 2011 by finishing top scorer in the qualification tournament.
Birgit Prinz (Germany)
A household name in her homeland, Birgit Prinz has done it all in a glittering career. The 33-year-old is set to cap 16 remarkable years with the national team when the FIFA Women’s World Cup is played in her home country for the first time. In the meantime, Germany’s most-capped player and all-time leading goalscorer has continued to find the net with regularity for FCC Frankfurt and the national team to enjoy yet another fruitful year.
Caroline Seger (Sweden)
The all-action Swedish midfielder enjoyed a stellar 2010 and came close to winning a second successive league title in two different countries. After ending 2009 with a league crown at Linkopings in her native land, the 25-year-old was a virtual ever-present as Philadelphia Independence fell just short of the WPS title in their inaugural season. Seger also skippered Sweden to a dramatic aggregate victory over neighbours Denmark to secure passage to Germany 2011.
Christine Sinclair (Canada)
The prolific Canadian striker partnered Marta in the FC Gold Pride attack as the club won the WPS title amid a flurry of goals. Sinclair was among the league’s leading markswomen, even managing a brace in the WPS final. The international front was just as successful for Sinclair as she scored the winner from the penalty spot in the final of the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup against Mexico as Canada qualified for Germany 2011.
Kelly Smith (England)
The skilful English forward is a regular FIFA Women’s Player of the Year nominee and has earned her place on this year’s shortlist after again being among the goals in 2010. A strike every other game for Boston Breakers in the USA was a record mirrored internationally, where Smith bagged three goals in the FIFA Women’s World Cup play-off as England secured qualification.
Hope Solo (USA)
Widely considered to be the premier goalkeeper in the women’s game, Solo provides an assured presence between the sticks for the world’s No1-ranked nation. Consistent performances this year culminated in the 29-year-old becoming the first Atlanta Beat player to be named WPS Player of the Week, a rare feat for a goalkeeper. A shoulder injury saw the gifted shotstopper miss USA’s qualifying campaign for Germany 2011, but you can expect Solo to be a key figure for the USA’s push to regain the world crown next year.
Abby Wambach (USA)
The powerfully-built USA striker is a key player for the Stars and Stripes given both her on-field presence and her ability to change the direction of a match. With well over 100 international goals, not to mention the gold-medal winning strike for the Americans at the 2004 Olympic Football Tournament, Wambach is undoubtedly among the women's game's all-time greats. Her form in front of goal during 2010 has been as consistent as ever, with Wambach racking up 13 goals and eight assists for her club side, Washington Freedom.