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Bayern's Ribery joins Messi and Ronaldo in UEFA final three

Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has made the final cut in contenders for UEFA Best Player in Europe for the past season. The rivals he faces are Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

With the announcement on Tuesday, Frenchman Ribery becomes the first player from a club other than Barcelona and Real Madrid to make the final three since the plaudit was set up by UEFA - European soccer's ruling body - in 2011.

"It makes me very proud, I am so happy - for myself, the whole team and the whole club," said Ribery, reacting to news that he had gone forward in the nominations.

Ribery had a major role in Bayern's treble winning season of 2012 to 2013, which saw the Bavarian club pick up the Champions League trophy and the German Cup while also clinching the Bundesliga by a staggering margin of 25 points.

Ribery had been one of three Bayern players to have made the shortlist of 10 Europe-based players announced as possible winners last month.

Two of them were German national side players: Bastian Schweinsteiger and his more attacking midfield colleague, Thomas Müller. The other Bayern player was Ribery's Dutch teammate on the other wing, Arjen Robben.

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, whose Borussia Dortmund side lost to Bayern in the Champions League final at London's Wembley Stadium, had also been named as a candidate, meaning that Bundesliga players made up half of the nominees.

Aside from Portuguese star Ronaldo and the Argentine Messi, the other contenders - now eliminated - had been Tottenham Hotspur's attacking Welshman Gareth Bale and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie as well as Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, from Paris Saint-Germain.

The final award is to be presented on August 29 at the Champions League group-stage draw in Monaco. It will follow a live vote by a journalists' panel.

rc/jm (AP. AFP, Reuters, SID)

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