As was widely predicted, Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro has succeeded Ronaldinho as the European Player of the Year. The Real Madrid defender won France Football's Ballon d'Or, which is voted on by
Europe's sporting press, with 173 votes, ahead of Italy teammate Gianluigi Buffon with 124, and Frenchman Thierry Henry with 121. Cannavaro had been the expected winner of the prize after a
photographer and journalist from the French magazine were both spotted in the Madrid in the past 10 days preparing for the annual feature. Cannavaro is the fourth Italian to win Europe's top
individual prize after Gianni Rivera in 1969, Paolo Rossi in 1982, and Roberto Baggio in 1993. He is also just the third defender to win the title in the 51 years it's been given out. Had Serie A
giant Juventus, Cannavaro's club last year, not been stripped of its title last year due to a match fixing scandal, Cannavaro would have been Italian champion and world champion, as well as the
European Player of the Year. As it is, it hasn't been such a bad year for the Neapolitan, who dedicated his award to the children of Naples.
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