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Two of Spain’s Euro 2008 heroes have been honoured as the best players of the year in their respective positions.

Spain’s Primera División may have shockingly dropped down to fourth place in IFFHS’ [International Federation of Football History & Statistics] ranking for the World’s Strongest League of 2008, but the country’s two top stars were duly rewarded. And, for once, Cristiano Ronaldo missed out.

Over the past two days the IFFHS named their World’s Best Goalkeeper and World’s Best Playmaker of 2008, and they were won by Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas and Barcelona’s Xavi Hernández respectively.

The votes were cast by a panel of expert journalist from 83 countries, who picked their top four players in each position and allocated four points for their first choice, three points for second, and so on.

Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon and Manchester United’s Edwin van der Sar followed behind Casillas in the goalkeeping department, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi placed behind Xavi as the best two other playmakers.

United’s Portuguese ace only placed fourth in the World’s Best Top Division Goalscorer of 2008, a title awarded strictly based on goals scored without taking co-efficient points into consideration.

Xavi, Ronaldo and Messi will go head to head again on Monday, January 12, along with Milan’s Kaka and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres for the big prize, the FIFA World Player of the Year, where votes will be cast by national team selectors and captains.

IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper of 2008 Rankings

1. Iker Casillas, Spain (Real Madrid) 249 points

2. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy (Juventus) 170 points

3. Edwin van der Sar, Netherlands (Manchester United) 143 points

4. Petr Cech, Czech Republic (Chelsea) 108 points

IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker of 2008 Rankings

1. Xavi Hernández, Spain (Barcelona) 113 points

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal (Manchester United) 94 points

3. Lionel Messi, Argentina (Barcelona) 83 points

4. Steven Gerrard, England (Liverpool) 69 points

IFFHS World’s Best Top Division Goalscorer of 2008 Rankings

1. Lucas Ramón Barrios, Argentina (Colo Colo) 37 goals/38 appearances

2. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Netherlands (Ajax Amsterdam) 33 goals/34 appearances

3. Miguel Alejandro Ximénez, Uruguay (Sporting Cristal) 32 goals/41 appearances

4. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal (Manchester United) 31 goals/34 appearances

KS Leong,
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