They may not have won the prestigious trophy but all are proud to have been chosen among the three best male and female players of 2004. Thierry Henry, Andriy Shevchenko, Mia Hamm and Marta answered a few questions before slipping away to leave the limelight free for the two winners on the night.

Thierry Henry
Receiving an award two years in a row at the FIFA World Player Gala is something special in itself, but of course I would love to go all the way. If I could have voted myself, it would have helped me (laughs).

When I started playing football, it was just to play the game. Then things went well, I became famous, and that was already a dream. What's more, I'm lucky to have never had a serious injury and people tend to forget that in our profession there's nothing worse than injuries. When you're a footballer, being injured means you can no longer express yourself.

I've already won a World Cup and a European Championship. What's missing is the Champion's League. Now, all the remaining matches are massive games which could be finals, but we're going to hang on in there.

Andriy Shevchenko (on stage)
I am very happy to be here. It's a great honour to have been nominated. My two rivals are of the very highest quality, so I'm delighted be alongside them here.

It's incredible what has happened to me at just eighteen years of age. I'm thrilled to be here with players such as Mia Hamm and Birgit Prinz. It's a very important honour in my career.

This year, I've experienced both highs and lows, like at the FIFA U-19 World Championship in Thailand. We had less time to prepare than for the Olympic Games. Both at individual level and as a team, we didn't always achieve what we wanted, but that happens sometimes in football.

Mia Hamm
Just being nominated was honour enough, as the votes came not only from coaches who have seen me play, but also from team captains, who adjudged that I was among the three best players in the world. It is a great privilege to be here together with Birgit, who deserves this award, and also Marta, who is such a fantastic player.

We don't play football for these prizes, but because we love the sport and enjoy the camaraderie with our teammates. I've been very lucky to be able to keep playing so long, and luckier still to be part of such a great team, twice world champions and twice Olympic champions.