Cologne - He may already have enjoyed his fair share of personal accolades this year, but German Footballer of the Year, and International Football Federation of History and Statistics (IFFHS) World Goalkeeper of the Year Manuel Neuer could also become the first keeper to be named Europe's best player on Thursday.
More completed passes than Messi
Along with team-mate Arjen Robben and Real Madrid CF forward Cristiano Ronaldo, the FC Bayern München star will learn whether he will succeed club-mate Franck Ribery as this year's UEFA Best Player in Europe, with the winner to be decided in a live vote at the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco.
bundesliga.com recounts the custodian's world-beating exploits from the past year...
The 28-year-old Bayern München No1 underlined his status as the planet's best between the sticks with a string of stellar showings in Brazil this summer, his trademark sweeper-keeper style playing a key role as Germany clinched the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Gelsenkirchen native kept four clean sheets in seven games and even completed more passes (244) than Argentina star Lionel Messi (242) throughout the competition.
While his standout performances in Brazil earned the former FC Schalke 04 man the Golden Glove Award for the tournament's best custodian, his displays at club level have been no less impressive in the past twelve months. Standing at 6'4'', Neuer conceded only 20 goals in the champions' successful quest for a 22nd Bundesliga title and also played a starring role in Bayern's DFB Cup triumph over Borussia Dortmund in May.
'A great battle'
"It's a great battle," said Neuer of the competition, aware of how individual honours in football are usually reserved for outfield players. "It's difficult to win awards like this, especially if you're a keeper. But it's something very special, there's no doubt about that."