All the world's a stage - 50 boasts stars from every corner of the globe

Our definitive countdown of the best 50 footballers in the world has returned, and this year's list represents a continental selection of star names
The 50 is back and this season's edition includes a wide selection of players from all across the world, with Africa, Asia, and the United States all represented.

Our annual countdown of the top 50 players from the 2011-12 season commenced with the publication of numbers 50 to 4 on Monday.'s worldwide team of football experts meticulously assessed domestic and international performances from the world's greatest players, and their selections have led to a diverse and global list.

At Euro 2012, Spain was immortalized by becoming the first international team to secure three consecutive major tournaments, and members of that squad including Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Silva have all received recognition.

Ivory Coast duo Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure both secured spots in the top 10 after successful campaigns with Chelsea and Manchester City respectively. Tunisian rising star Youssef Msakni (49) and Africa Cup of

Our definitive countdown of the finest players from 2011-12 has commenced. Click here to view our slideshow of the stars who ranked 50-4 in our list!
Nations hero Christopher Katongo (42) have also earned their respective berths.

From Asia, Manchester United's new addition, Shinji Kagawa, has received acclaim due to his Bundesliga-winning performances for Borussia Dortmund.

South America is also represented by the likes of Colombia's Radamel Falcao (18), Argentina's Sergio Aguero (17) and Brazil's Ramires (25), while Fulham's American star Clint Dempsey is a popular inclusion. Managing Editor Amar Singh said: "The 50 is now in its fifth year and has always been determined by our editors all over the world voting for their top players. But this year we were particularly pleased to see a more diverse range of stars on the list.

"Recognition for the likes of Chris Katongo, who led Zambia to a memorable win at the African Cup of Nations to Fulham's Clint Dempsey - one of the first Americans we've ever had on the list - shows that footballing talent is no longer the preserve of the traditional hotbeds of Europe and South America."

There are just three slots remaining in our fabled countdown, with our No.1 to be revealed on Tuesday. Will Lionel Messi become the first player to top the list for a third time? Will Cristiano Ronaldo dethrone his Clasico rival? Or will there be new a name at the summit?

Stay tuned to find out who is crowned winner of the 2012 50.