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Last Updated: Monday, 22 December, 2003, 16:34 GMT
Nedved scoops top award
Juventus and Czech Republic midfielder Pavel Nedved
Nedved has been in great form
Juventus and Czech Republic midfielder Pavel Nedved has been named 2003 European Footballer of the Year.

Nedved topped a poll from 52 countries published by France Football magazine on Monday with 190 points.

Arsenal striker Thierry Henry came second with 128 points and AC Milan's Paolo Maldini third with 123 points.

Nedved had a superb 2002-03 season for Juve, guiding the team to the Champions League final, which he missed through suspension.

"I didn't even dream of this," said Nedved. "I am very happy to win such an extraordinary prize."

"I heard I was part of the nominees, but I didn't really think I was going to win.

"There are many players who have had great seasons, like Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini and Raul."

RECENT WINNERS
2002: Ronaldo (Brazil)
2001: Michael Owen (England)
2000: Luis Figo (Portugal)

He added: "For me, Thierry Henry is the best forward in the world now.

"I am very happy. I did not think I would beat Thierry Henry, Paolo Maldini or Zinedine Zidane and if I had voted I would have voted for Thierry and for the other players on the podium."

The 31-year-old was also a key player as Juve won Italy's Serie A and a major factor in the Czech Republic's successful Euro 2004 qualification campaign.

Arsenal and France striker Henry was also second in the Fifa Player of the Year award, which was won by Real Madrid's Zidane.

Nedved had finished fourth in the Fifa poll.

The Czech Republic international joined Juve from Italian rivals Lazio for 25m in July 2001.

He is the second Czech player to win the honour after Josef Masopust won the award in 1962.

Nedved has also been named Czech athlete of the year in his home country after a poll of sports journalists.





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