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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 14:02 GMT
Cannavaro tipped for Golden Ball
Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro
Cannavaro is in line to be crowned European Footballer of the Year
Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro is the front runner to be crowned European Footballer of the Year, according to reports in Spain.

The Golden Ball accolade is awarded by France Football magazine.

And Spanish daily Marca claims that the magazine's editor had visited Real Madrid's 33-year-old defender to confirm he had won the award.

Cannavaro said: "Of course I would like to win it. It would be wonderful and very gratifying on a personal level."

He led Italy to victory against France in the World Cup final in Berlin in July, and then completed a move from Juventus to Real Madrid.

The Italian media also reported that he will win the award, with sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport announcing: "Cannavaro, it's all true."

And Milan daily Corriere della Sera declared: "Golden Ball to Cannavaro".

Cannavaro would be the fourth Italian to win the award after Gianni Rivera (1969), Paolo Rossi (1982) and Roberto Baggio (1993).

"If Cannavaro has really won it, it would be absolutely deserved," Rossi was quoted as saying by Gazzetta.

Cannavaro is one of seven nominated players from the Italian team that captured its fourth World Cup title.

Former AC Milan legend Rivera said: "I would have chosen (Italy keeper Gianluigi) Buffon but if it is true that Fabio is to win it, I'm happy anyway."

However Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger made a strong plea for one of his players - striker Thierry Henry:

"Congratulations to Cannavaro if that is the case - but for me there is only one candidate this year and that is Thierry Henry," said Wenger.

"He was the top goalscorer in England, the best player in England, the second-highest goalscorer in Europe behind Luca Toni.

"He played in the Champions League final and he played in the World Cup final."

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