10. Mario Gomez (26) has become a permanent fixture in the Germany team, having proven his ability as a reliable goalscorer, and is sure to figure in Die Mannschaft’s bid for glory at UEFA EURO 2012. Gomez made his name at Stuttgart and was voted Germany’s Footballer of the Year in 2007. The leading scorer in the Bundesliga last season with Bayern Munich, Super Mario has his sights set on further accolades with club and country.
11. Eric Abidal (32) overcame a cancer scare last season, and no sooner had he got off the operating table than he was back in action. The cultured French defender made quite a return too, helping Barcelona over the line as they secured a notable league and UEFA Champions League double. Following Barça’s victory over Manchester United at Wembley in May, Abidal’s team-mates paid tribute to his selflessness by handing him the captain’s armband, allowing him to step up and collect the famous trophy. That latest triumph is one of many Abidal has enjoyed with the Catalans, including the unprecedented six trophies they won in 2008/09. The versatile defender also collected his fair share of winners’ medals during his time at Lyon, playing a part in three French championship wins with Les Gones. An experienced campaigner for his country, Abidal has appeared at two FIFA World Cup™ finals (Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010) and was also on duty at UEFA EURO 2008.
12. Antonio Cassano (29) is regarded as one of the most talented Italian footballers of the last decade, though his fiery temperament has also caused him a problem or two during the course of his career. Announcing himself at Bari, he joined Roma in 2001, just after they had won the Serie A title. A move to Real Madrid followed a few seasons later, and though few opportunities came his way, he picked up a league winner’s medal. Returning to Italy, he signed for Sampdoria before moving to AC Milan in last winter’s transfer window. He made an instant impact, contributing to I Rossoneri’s first Scudetto in several seasons.
13. Craig Bellamy (32) has played many a starring role in his long career. After starting out with Norwich City, he joined Coventry City and then Newcastle United before moving north of the border for a stint with Glasgow Celtic. The Welshman then returned to England, stopping off at Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool and Manchester City before heading back to his homeland with Cardiff City. Along the way, Bellamy has scored a hatful of goals and proved his qualities as both an organiser of play and passer.
14. Nilmar (27) aroused the interest of Europe’s big clubs in making a promising start to his career with Internacional in Brazil. Lyon won the race for his signature and got an instant return as he contributed to several trophy successes. The centre-forward then returned home for stints with Corinthians and Internacional once more, before crossing the Atlantic once more and signing for Villarreal. The goalscoring nous he showed in Spain earned him the call from his national side, with Nilmar going on to represent his country at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 and making the squad for South Africa 2010.
15. Mario Kempes (57) is a living legend of Argentinian football. One of the architects of La Albiceleste’s victory at the 1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina, he scored twice in the Final against the Netherlands to set the Estadio Monumental alight. His six goals in the competition won him the adidas Golden Boot. El Matador also ran out for his country at Germany 1974 and Spain 1982, and it was in Spain that he enjoyed some of his finest hours in club football, top-scoring in La Liga for two consecutive seasons with Valencia. He was also named South American and Argentinian Player of the Year in 1978.
16. Badr Al Maymani (27) was a key player in Oman’s first Gulf Cup of Nations win in 2009, having formed part of the young side that finished runners-up to Qatar in 2004, the year in which Badr also unveiled his talent at the AFC Asian Cup, held in China. A skilled playmaker, Al Maymani has played for clubs in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar.