The vintage year that was 2006 will be rounded off in style on 18 December with the FIFA World Player Gala. The year's top male and female performers, as well as the stars and scorers from the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, will be rewarded for their efforts.

While  the main show gets underway at 20:00 hours at the Zurich Opera House, a plethora of other festivities are also on the menu throughout the day. The ladies take precedence, with the press conference of the three nominees - Kristine Lilly, Renate Lingor and Marta - beginning at 16:00. Then, the  FIFA Interactive World Player trophy will be officially presented to Andries Smit. The Dutchman, who emerged victorious from a field of 5547, will receive this prestigious prize from the hands of one of his idols, Edgar Davids.

Lastly, Fabio Cannavaro, Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane will also field journalists' questions as the hour of the verdict draws nearer. These conferences are frequently highly charged affairs, producing memorable moments such as Marta's tears in 2004 and 2005 and Samuel Eto'o's great enthusiasm last year. And you can watch live video from the event on on Monday afternoon.

Raining stars at the Opera
The evening's main entertainment, which takes the theme of "Football meets Mozart", will be hosted by Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit, accompanied by the television presenter Amanda McLane-Attali. Apart from the six nominees,  the prizes for Germany 2006 will also be presented: adidas Shoe awards for Miroslav Klose, Hernan Crespo and Ronaldo, and adidas Ball awards for Andrea Pirlo, Zidane and Fabio Cannavaro. Gianluigi Buffon will also pick up the Lev Yashin Prize, while the Fair Play Award for the competition will be collected by Brazil and Spain.

Punctuated with snippets from Mozart's operas and video clips of the exploits of each nominee, the show will also feature the Fair Play prize and the Presidential Award, as well as showcasing the success of the "6 Villages for 2006" project conducted by the SOS Children's Villages charity, a FIFA special partner. But it is around 21:15 that the excitement will reach its crescendo, with the unveiling of first the women's and then the men's FIFA World Player 2006. The results will appear on almost instantaneously.

After the ceremony, there will be further treats in store, as the coverage continues with the reactions of each of the players, not to mention a special photo gallery, wallpaper, screensavers, and full exlcusive interviews with the winners. So stay with us and enjoy every minute of this must-see end-of-year spectacle.