The world' most expensive goalkeeper, Buffon is a well-decorated veteran despite his relatively tender age of 31. Often lauded as one of the greatest netminders of all-time, his highest achievement has been helping the Italian national team to World Cup glory in 2006. He conceded only two goals along the way; an own goal and a penalty.
A two-time World Cup winner, the Brazilian played at the highest level until he was 38. A hugely decorated footballer at club level, Cafu won two Scudetti, one with Roma and another with Milan; he also gained, among other honours, the World Club Cup before retiring.
The Brazilian, a World Cup winner and Champions League winner in 2002, was Mr Consistency for Real Madrid and the Seleccao throughout the decade. Carlos, an explosive flanker, made a mockery of the term 'full-back'. Now back in his homeland with Corinthians following a spell with Fenerbahce.
Finland's captain was a major factor in Liverpool's successes throughout the decade. After signing from Willem II, Hyypia established himself as one of the Premier League's finest stoppers. He led the Anfield side, from the back, to victories in the Champions League and FA Cup, among others. The Reds have found it increasingly difficult to replace the veteran since his move to Bayer Leverkusen, whom he has helped to the top of the Bundesliga as undefeated winter champions.
Credited with defining the defensive midfielder's position, which is now named after him. As consistent as the tide, Makelele was proven to be nigh-on irreplaceable for the Galacticos of Real Madrid and carried on his dominant brand of ball-winning and passing at Chelsea. Makelele is a Champions League winner, as well as two-time winner of both la Liga and the Premier League.
A Cantera product at Barcelona, Xavi epitomises the home-grown philosophy espoused at Camp Nou. The 29-year-old is second on the all-time appearance list for the Blaugrana and has been integral to all their success in the past decade, having broken into the team in 1998. With him in the side, Barca have won it all; Spanish Leagues, Champions Leagues, Spanish Cups, Club World Cup and the European Super Cup. Also, Xavi is a major part of Spain's national team too, being named Player of the Tournament at Euro 2008, a competition which la Furia Roja won.
Absolutely in his pomp during the early part of the decade, 'Zizou' was a driving force in the successes of Real Madrid and his national team, France. With Les Bleus, he gained the Euro 2000 top prize as well as appearing, infamously, in the 2006 World Cup final following a stellar tournament. Indeed, he claimed the best player gong in both competitions. He was prominent too as Real Madrid won the Champions League in 2002; the final featured an exquisite volley from the left foot of Zidane. He was also decorated with a Liga triumph and an Intercontinental Cup.
The current Ballon d'Or incumbent and reigning FIFA World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi, has been a huge part of Barcelona's dominance of the Spanish and continental game in the latter stages of the decade. A treble-winner last season, he scored in the Champions League final against Manchester United. He is also a Summer Olympics Gold Medallist.
'The Phenomenon' has scored more World Cup goals than any other footballer, 15 in all, following his strike against Ghana in 2006. In the tournament previous, he scored the two decisive strikes as Brazil beat Germany to the title of world champions. He is a three-time Ballon d'Or winner and is still among the goals at Corinthians and pushing hard for a World Cup 2010 place. Had injury not hampered his career at various stages, he could possibly have been lauded as the greatest player of all time.
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Update: At 19:55 GMT (20:55 CET) on Wednesday December 30th, all duplicate votes for all candidates were removed and such votes disabled.