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Last Updated: Monday, 15 December, 2003, 14:00 GMT
Zidane scoops world honour
France and Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane
2002: Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2001: Luis Figo (Real Madrid)
2000: Zidane (Juve)
1999: Rivaldo (Barcelona)
1998: Zidane (Juve)
1997: Ronaldo (Inter Milan)
1996: Ronaldo (Barcelona)
1995: George Weah (AC Milan)
1994: Romario (Barcelona)
1993: Roberto Baggio (Juve)
1992: Van Basten (AC Milan)
1991: L Matthaeus (Inter Milan)
Zinedine Zidane has beaten Thierry Henry and Ronaldo to the Fifa 2003 World Player of the Year award.

It is the third time the France and Real Madrid star has claimed the award having won it in 1998 and 2000.

The 31-year-old received 264 points with Henry second on 186 and Ronaldo third on 176 following a poll of 142 national team coaches.

Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy was sixth while David Beckham was in seventh place.

Zidane was voted the world's best player by 35 coaches while 26 put Ronaldo top and 21 backed Henry in first place.

Juventus playmaker Pavel Nedved was fourth with 158 points while Roberto Carlos was a third Real Madrid player in the top five with 105 points.

"It doesn't matter how many times you win an award, it is always very special," said Zidane.

"To be nominated along with Thierry and Ronaldo is a great satisfaction in itself.

"And it is even more special when it is voted by the coaches. It is a major honour for me and I am very proud to have won it."

For me, there is nothing between them Thierry, Zidane and Ronaldo
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

Henry paid tribute to club manager Arsene Wenger, who has brought the best out of the France international since signing him from Juventus in 1999.

"I could talk about my respect for Arsene Wenger all day," said Henry.

"He has been tremendous for me and the fans at Arsenal have been so great - I can only try and give them the same pleasure back."

Wenger said Henry deserved to be recognised among the best in the world.

"Although Thierry hasn't won the award, being voted the second best player in the world is fantastic recognition from the world's football coaches," said Wenger.

"The achievement was to be in the top three. After that it is subjective between Thierry, Zidane or Ronaldo. For me, there is nothing between them."

Zidane started his career at Cannes before moving to Bordeaux and making his French debut in August 1994 when he scored twice after coming on as a second half substitute.

He switched to Italian club Juventus in 1996 and helped the club to two Serie A titles in his first two full seasons.

Zidane went on to play an influential role as France won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

He became the world's most expensive player when he signed for Real Madrid for 46.5m in July 2002.

And he added a Champions League winners' medal to his collection in May 2002 when his sublime volleyed goal helped overcome Bayer Leverkusen.

  • Meanwhile, Brazil were awarded the team of the year accolade while Celtic's supporters won the Fair Play award.

    Celtic were beaten 3-2 in the Uefa Cup final by FC Porto but their fans helped create a festive atmosphere around the match.

    "Celtic is a unique club with many thousands of fantastic supporters," said Celtic's executive director Peter Lawwell.

    "This award is a tribute to all of them, as they showed in Seville last year, they are the best fans in the world."

    BBC Five Live's Gordon Farquhar
    "The 31-year-old has enjoyed a glittering career"

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