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Former La Coruna coach John Toshack
"He scored 24 goals, something Beckham would never get near"
 real 28k

Monday, 20 December, 1999, 17:19 GMT
Rivaldo voted best in Europe

Rivaldo Rivaldo received 219 points to Beckham's 154

Barcelona's Brazilian midfielder Rivaldo has been elected European footballer of the year.

Rivaldo pipped England's David Beckham to the title and wins this year's golden ball award organised by French magazine France-Football.

Europe's top five:
1. Rivaldo (Bra/Barcelona) 219 points
2. David Beckham (Eng/Man Utd) 154
3. Andrii Shevchenko (Ukr/Dynamo Kiev/AC Milan) 64
4. Gabriel Batistuta (Arg/Fiorentina) 48
5. Luis Figo (Por/Barcelona) 38
"This trophy is very important to me," Rivaldo was quoted as saying in L'Equipe magazine.

"It is a goal which every professional footballer strives for."

Beckham, who played a key role in helping United to the treble last season, finished runner-up in the vote carried out by journalists from 51 Uefa-affiliated countries with 154 points to Rivaldo's 219.

Andrii Shevchenko of AC Milan polled third with 64.

Selected others:
6. Roy Keane (Irl/Man Utd) 36
11. Jaap Stam (Ned/Man Utd) 13
17. Peter Schmeichel (Den/Man Utd/Sporting Lisbon) 6
21: Ryan Giggs (Wal/Man Utd) 3
23 Kanu (Nig/Arsenal) 2
26 Andy Cole (Eng/Man Utd) 1
26 David Ginola (Fra/Tottenham) 1
Earlier this year Rivaldo top scored for Brazil in South America's premier continental tournament, the Copa America and he finished last season as Barcelona's top scorer with 24 goals.

Speculation that he might join Manchester United has proven unfounded.

He is under contract at the Nou Camp until June 2002 and any club moving for his services beforehand would have to buy out his current deal, to the tune of 44m.

Rivaldo is the 44th player to win the Ballon d'Or, which France-Football created in 1956.

The award was only opened to non-European players six years ago and now is open to any player under contract at a European club.

Rivaldo is in no doubt that he deserves the award.

"I consider Rivaldo to be the best player," he said after being asked who he would have voted for.

Contract warning

But Barcelona will refrain from basking in the glory for too long, after they have heard his next comment.

The forward claims the Spanish giants have not fulfilled all of the financial engagements made to him when he signed in 1997.

"It's the only problem I have currently at Barcelona," he said.

"It has to be sorted out, but basically I am very happy here. A transfer would only arise in the case of really serious problems."

Rivaldo dedicated the award to his father, who died in a road accident when he was 16.

Beckham David Beckham: Second in something, for once
Beckham's second place in the poll could fuel the debate over whether he deserves an improved contract, but his father, Ted, insists the midfielder does not feel he is being shortchanged.

Beckham, who earns well over 20,000 a week, has been left trailing in the wages stakes by Keane following the United skipper's new blockbusting contract.

"He's more than happy with Manchester United," said Ted Beckham.

"It's like this all the time and there are always people trying to stir so much stuff up, but I don't think there's a problem."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was simply delighted that the club had six players in the top 26 places.

"Out of the 26 places, more than 25% of them are players who either are or were Manchester United players," he said.

"That is a fantastic honour and achievement for everyone connected with the club."

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See also:
20 Dec 99 |  Football
Rivaldo lives up to magic number
19 Jul 99 |  Football
Brazil crowned Copa champions
30 Nov 99 |  Football
Man Utd crowned world champions
Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.