Exactly 10 years today, the Black Stars midfielder was short-listed for the FIFA Player of the Year
Michael "Bison" Essien was named on a 30-man shortlist on Thursday, 12th October, 2006 for FIFA's World Player of the Year award, which Brazilian Ronaldinho is aiming to win for a record-tying third time.
The Ghanaian international midfielder is named along with his Chelsea teammates Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, goalkeeper Petr Cech and strikers Andriy Shevchenko and Didier Drogba for soccer's top individual honor.
The coaches and captains of every national team will be asked to choose their top three players. FIFA will reveal the three with the most votes before announcing the winner in Zurich on Dec. 18.
Ronaldinho, who last season helped Barcelona clinch the Champions League and Spanish league titles, can become the first player to claim the FIFA award in three straight years. He edged Lampard and Barcelona teammate Samuel Eto'o to the crown last year.
Former France midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who retired after this year's World Cup and claimed the last of his three awards in 2003, is also listed, along with 2001 winner Luis Figo. Real Madrid's Brazilian forward Ronaldo, winner in 1996, 1997 and 2002, misses out.
Other contenders include Arsenal trio Thierry Henry, Jens Lehmann and Tomas Rosicky, and Werder Bremen's German striker Miroslav Klose, top scorer at this year's World Cup with five goals. Fabio Cannavaro, who led Italy to the world title, is one of five players included from the nation's squad.
All 15 winners stretching back to Germany's Lothar Matthaeus in 1991 have claimed the award while playing for Spanish or Italian teams. Seven awards have gone to Europeans and seven to South Americans, while George Weah of Liberia was Africa's only recipient, in 1995.
FIFA WORLD PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES Adriano (Brazil) Michael Ballack (Germany) Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) Fabio Cannavaro (Italy) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Petr Cech (Czech Republic) Deco (Portugal) Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) Michael Essien (Ghana) Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon) Luis Figo (Portugal) Gennaro Gattuso (Italy) Steven Gerrard (England) Thierry Henry (France) Kaka (Brazil) Miroslav Klose (Germany) Philipp Lahm (Germany) Frank Lampard (England) Jens Lehmann (Germany) Alessandro Nesta (Italy) Andrea Pirlo (Italy) Franck Ribery (France) Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina) Ronaldinho (Brazil) Wayne Rooney (England) Tomas Rosicky (Czech Republic) Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine) Lilian Thuram (France) Patrick Vieira (France) Zinedine Zidane (France)