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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 22:49 GMT
Cannavaro wins Ballon d'Or - Real
Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro
Cannavaro has had a memorable year
Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro has been named European Footballer of the Year by France Football magazine, says Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon.

"The joy at Cannavaro winning the Ballon d'Or has been overshadowed by the sad news of the death of Ferenc Puskas," said Calderon.

The 33-year-old centre-back, who captained Italy to victory at the World Cup in Germany, joined Real in July.

France Football is due to officially name the award winner on 27 November.

The European Footballer of the Year award is based on a vote by European football journalists.

Cannavaro, who will replace Barcelona's Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho as last year's winner, will become one of the few defenders to win the award.

Earlier on Friday Spanish daily Marca had claimed France Football'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 had won 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."

But Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes striker Thierry Henry should have won the award

"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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