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Nedved claims World Soccer award

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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Juventus' Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved has been named World Player of the Year in a poll by readers of the magazine World Soccer.

The 31-year-old gained more than a third of the votes in the magazine's 22nd annual poll after a series of outstanding performances for Juve as they retained the Italian title and reached the Champions League final.

Juventus lost that on penalties to AC Milan, winners of World Soccer's Team of the Year award and coached by Carlo Ancelotti, the magazine's World Manager of the Year.

Nedved, who has been linked with a move to Chelsea, missed the final through suspension after being booked in the semifinal, when his spectacular performance was a major factor in the defeat of competition favorites Real Madrid.

He also helped the Czech Republic qualify for Euro 2004.

Nedved topped the player poll in front of Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Manchester United and the Netherlands and Raul of Real Madrid and Spain.

French international striker Thierry Henry of Arsenal, favorite to win FIFA's World Player of the Award next week, finished fifth.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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