Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi & Neymar on Ballon d'Or shortlist

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo was named world footballer of the year in 2015, for the second year in a row

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar make up the three-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or - the award given to the world footballer of the year.

It is the fifth consecutive year that Real Madrid's Ronaldo and Barcelona's Messi have been on the three-man shortlist.

Mark Sampson is in contention for Fifa's women's football world coach of the year after guiding England to third place at the World Cup.

Ballon d'Or 2014: Cristiano Ronaldo named world's best player

The winners will be announced at a gala in Zurich on 11 January.

Ronaldo has been named the world's best footballer for the past two years, ending Messi's four-year hold on an award regarded as the game's most prestigious individual accolade.

The three contenders were chosen from a 23-man list that also included Wales and Real Madrid attacker Gareth Bale.

Fifa award nominees
Ballon d'Or: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, NeymarWorld coach of the year for men's football: Luis Enrique, Pep Guardiola, Jorge Sampaoli
Women's world player of the year: Carli Lloyd, Aya Miyama, Celia SasicWorld coach of the year for women's football: Jill Ellis, Mark Sampson, Norio Sasaki
Puskas award: Alessandro Florenzi, Wendell Lira, Lionel Messi

A first for Neymar

It is the first time 23-year-old Brazilian Neymar, who along with Messi has helped Barcelona to the top of La Liga, has made the final three.

Spanish football writer Andy West:
"Neymar is still only 23, yet he has 252 career goals: 136 for Santos, 70 for Barcelona and 46 for Brazil.
"To put those figures into context, by the time Messi and Ronaldo reached the age Neymar is now (23 years and nine months), they had 'only' registered respective career goal tallies of 186 and 127."
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All three candidates are among the 50 players to make the team of the year shortlist, while 28-year-old Messi is also nominated for the Puskas Award for the year's best goal.

Messi has scored 48 goals so far in 2015, despite being injured for two months.

Portugal captain Ronaldo, 30, has also scored 48 times for club and country, but Real are six points adrift of Barca in La Liga.

Guardiola, Enrique & Sampaoli shortlisted

The other award categories are women's world player of the year and men's football world coach of the year.

USA's Carli Lloyd, Japan's Aya Miyama and Germany's Celia Sasic will vie to be named women's world player of the year.

Luis Enrique heads the coach of the year shortlist after leading Barcelona to Champions League, La Liga and Spanish Cup triumphs.

His two rivals are Pep Guardiola, who led Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title, and Jorge Sampaoli, under whose guidance Chile won their first Copa America title this summer.

Mark Sampson
Mark Sampson, a former coach of Bristol Academy, was thrown in the air by his players at the end of the World Cup

Sampson rewarded

Welshman Sampson has enjoyed a historic year with the England women's team, who reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time and won bronze by beating Germany in a third-place play-off.

It was the best finish by an England team since the men's side won the World Cup in 1966.

The Lionesses have continued their good form throughout the year, beating Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday to move second in their Euro 2017 group, behind Belgium.

Sampson, 33, said:external-link "Privileged to be nominated for the @FIFAcom World Coach of the Year. Thank you to the #Lioness players, staff & fans who made this possible."