Cologne: "It's fair to say I'm not the favourite," admitted FC Bayern München and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer when quizzed on his chances of beating Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the 2014 FIFA Ballon d'Or.

There are, however, plenty of big names out there who would care to disagree, as found out with less than 24 hours to go until Monday's award ceremony in Zürich, Switzerland...

"Manuel Neuer is a goalkeeper unlike any seen before. He not only saves the ball but pushes forward with it too. He’s the first man to play a pass out of defence and act as a sweeper too. This adds an entirely fresh perspective to goalkeeping."

Diego Maradona (1986 FIFA World Cup winner with Argentina):

"Not Messi or Ronaldo - my candidate is Neuer, who deserves it the most. I think Ronaldo and Messi are taking some time out."

"For me, it'd be more important if Manuel Neuer is crowned World Footballer of the Year [than for me to win World's Best Coach]. That'd mean everything. He's earned the prize because he's given the game a new dimension. Anyone else winning it would really disappoint me."

Giovanni Trapattoni (Former FC Bayern and Italy head coach):

"He's invincible, a bit like Dino Zoff [Italy's 1982-World Cup winning goalkeeper]. I love those players. He could also play as a striker. It would be something different if a goalkeeper gets voted FIFA World Player of the Year."

"Messi was a runner up at the World Cup, Ronaldo was a Champions League winner, but becoming a world champion... Neuer is entitled to win the Ballon d'Or. I said he would be the best ever from young age. He's got the full package. It beats me if he doesn't win."

"I'll chance a prediction and say the winner will be Neuer. He was integral to Germany’s great World Cup and to a wonderful season for Bayern in the Bundesliga. The situation is a bit like in 2006, when Gigi Buffon narrowly missed out to [Fabio] Cannavaro."

Lukas Podolski (FC Internazionale Milano and Germany forward):

"I want to voice my support for Manuel Neuer in the race for the Ballon d'Or. What more do you need to do to win?"

"The Cristiano Ronaldo option would be a bit boring really. In that case, maybe it would be an idea to reconsider the whole award and just send the title by post. I hope that 'Manu' comes out on top. He has my vote, even if it doesn't count."

“I would vote for a German player in the Ballon d’Or ballot. [Bayern captain Philipp] Lahm perhaps isn’t as noticeable but he can play in almost any position. He has been outstanding. Neuer is an extraordinary goalkeeper, who would deserve to win it too.”

Petr Cech (Chelsea FC and Czech Republic goalkeeper):

"A goalkeeper's got the best shot at winning it this year. Hopefully! Good luck!"

"I watched him during the World Cup and, first of all, he's from the winning team. He wasn't only playing like a traditional goalkeeper, but he was also the last man in defence. He was not only a fantastic goalkeeper, but he was fantastic at everything."