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Ronaldo tops World Player of Year shortlist

  • Story Highlights
  • Cristiano Ronaldo on five-man shortlist for FIFA World Player of Year award
  • Ronaldo claimed European version from Lionel Messi who is also nominated
  • Fernando Torres, Xavi and last year's winner Kaka make up the shortlist
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(CNN) -- Cristiano Ronaldo is a step closer to adding the World Player of the Year award to the European Ballon d'Or after being included on FIFA's five-man shortlist on Friday.

Ronaldo's remarkable scoring rate has left him in prime position for football's top awards.

The Manchester United winger was confirmed as Europe's best last week for scoring 42 goals in helping his side to the Premier League and Champions League double.

Ronaldo faces stiff competition from Barcelona's Lionel Messi, who led Argentina to Olympic football gold in Beijing and has been in electrifying form for his club side in the current season.

Spain's European Championship winners Fernando Torres and Xavi are also shortlisted with last year's winner Kaka.

World governing body FIFA get coaches and captains of national teams from around the world to nominate for the annual award.

Ronaldo finished third in voting last year, while Messi runner-up to AC Milan playmaker Kaka, who also made the shortlist despite failing to impress with Brazil in recent matches.

The award will be handed out January 12 at the Zurich Opera House.

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Brazilian players Cristiane and Marta, and Nadine Angerer and Birgit Prinz, both of Germany, are on the women's shortlist, along with England striker Kelly Smith.

Ronaldo, who had an ankle operation after Portugal's disappointing showing at Euro 2008, has been returning to his best form after a late start to the season with United.

The 23-year-old, who hails from Madeira, described his Ballon d'Or award as "one of the most beautiful days of my life, something I dreamed of as a child," and is hot favorite for a prestigious double.

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