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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 18:39 GMT
Cannavaro wins Euro player award
Fabio Cannavaro
Cannavaro has enjoyed a memorable year
Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro has been named European Footballer of the Year by France Football magazine.

The 33-year-old Real Madrid defender, who captained Italy to victory at the World Cup in Germany, becomes one of the few defenders to win the prize.

Cannavaro won the honour with 173 points, ahead of Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon (124) of Italy and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry (121).

The Ballon d'Or award is based on a vote by European football journalists.

France midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who retired after reaching the World Cup finals, was placed fifth with 71 points.

Last year's European Footballer award went to Barcelona's Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho, who finished fourth this time around.

It has a double importance because it's given to the greatest players and as a defender it's rare to have this honour

Fabio Cannavaro

Cannavaro is the fifth Italian to win the award after Omar Sivori (1961), Gianni Rivera (1969), Paolo Rossi (1982) and Roberto Baggio (1993).

He also revealed that the award had extra significance as he became the first defender to win since Germany's Mathias Sammer in 1996.

2006 BALLON D'OR RESULTS
1. Fabio Cannavaro (Real)
2. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
3. Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
4. Ronaldinho (Barcelona)
5. Zinedine Zidane (retired)
"It has a double importance because it's given to the greatest players and as a defender it's rare to have this honour," said the delighted Neapolitan.

"The World Cup in Germany was perfect for a defender. I remember in particular the semi-final against Germany."

Capped 105 times for his country, the Real Madrid defender was one of seven nominated players from the Italian team that captured its fourth World Cup title.

In domestic football, Cannavaro clinched victory in Serie A with Juventus over the last two seasons before his previous club side were stripped of those titles and demoted to the second division after being found guilty of match fixing.

"I want to thank Real president Raman Calderon and my team-mates from Juve and the national team who had an important part to play in my winning this award," Cannavaro added.

"Many people analysed my season with Juve in 2005 for this vote. In that season I played 37 matches and scored four crucial goals."

606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on this selection


Previous winners of the Ballon D'Or:

1956 - Stanley Matthews
1957 - Alfredo Di Stefano
1958 - Raymond Kopa
1959 - Alfredo Di Stefano
1960 - Luis Suarez
1961 - Omar Sivori
1962 - Josef Masopust
1963 - Lev Yashin
1964 - Denis Law
1965 - Eusebio
1966 - Bobby Charlton
1967 - Florian Albert
1968 - George Best
1969 - Gianni Rivera
1970 - Gerd Muller
1971 - Johan Cruyff
1972 - Franz Beckenbauer
1973 - Johan Cruyff
1974 - Johan Cruyff
1975 - Oleg Blokhin
1976 - Franz Beckenbauer
1977 - Alan Simonsen
1978 - Kevin Keegan
1979 - Kevin Keegan
1980 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
1981 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
1982 - Paolo Rossi
1983 - Michel Platini
1984 - Michel Platini
1985 - Michel Platini
1986 - Igor Belanov
1987 - Ruud Gullit
1988 - Marco Van Basten
1989 - Marco Van Basten
1990 - Lothar Matthaus
1991 - Jean-Pierre Papin
1992 - Marco Van Basten
1993 - Roberto Baggio
1994 - Hristo Stoichkov
1995 - George Weah
1996 - Matthias Sammer
1997 - Ronaldo
1998 - Zinedine Zidane
1999 - Rivaldo
2000 - Luis Figo
2001 - Michael Owen
2002 - Ronaldo
2003 - Pavel Nedved
2004 - Andrei Shevchenko
2005 - Ronaldinho
2006 - Fabio Cannavaro


SEE ALSO
Zidane off as Italy win World Cup
09 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006
Ronaldinho scoops European award
28 Nov 05 |  Football


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