U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx has been named one of three finalists for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year. The other finalists are the current European champion Birgit Prinz of Germany and dazzling Brazilian dribbler Marta. The winner will be announced at the FIFA World Player Gala 2005 at the Zurich Opera House in Switzerland on Monday, Dec. 19.
Boxx is a remarkable story in that she had never played a match for the full U.S. Women's National Team before being named to the roster for the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. She scored in her first two matches, both exhibitions before the tournament began, then scored in the opening game win over Sweden to set a U.S. WNT record for consecutive goals at the start of a National Team career. She was named to the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup All-Star Team.
Boxx has since gone on to become a staple in the U.S. midfield, earning 50 caps (49 of those starts) while scoring 13 goals. She has established herself as perhaps the top defensive midfielder in the world and earned a high honor in May of 2004, captaining the FIFA Women's World All-Star Team to a victory over Germany in Paris, France. Last year she finished seventh in the voting for FIFA Women's World Player of the Year. Boxx is also a candidate for this year's U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year. VOTE NOW!!
The 5-foot-8 Boxx is known for her world-class ball-winning in the midfield, both on the tackle and on head balls, but has increasingly become a key link in the U.S. attack for her ability to dribble out of tight spaces, change the point of attack and set the U.S. attacking rhythm, as well as score goals. She started all nine matches the USA played this year, and in 2004 was named MVP of the prestigious Algarve Cup in Portugal after the USA defeated Norway, 4-1, in the championship game.
Boxx's nomination as a finalist is even more impressive in that it's rare for a defensive-minded player to be included in this list. Forwards have won the trophy every year it has been awarded since FIFA began honoring the female player of the year in 2001. U.S. legend Mia Hamm won the award in 2001 and 2002, with Prinz capturing the honors in 2003 and 2004.
When Boxx won an Olympic gold medal in Athens, Greece, she became part of the first sister duo to win gold medals in different Olympic sports after her sister won a softball gold medal in Atlanta in 1996. On the men's side, Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon and Barcelona, Frank Lampard of England and Chelsea, and Ronaldinho of Brazil and Barcelona are the men's finalists.
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