Italy World Cup captain Fabio Cannavaro
won the 2006 Ballon d'or ("Golden Ball") as European Player of the Year, beating Italy teammate Gianluigi Buffon
and French star Thierry Henry
in voting of European journalists conducted by the French magazine France
Football. European Players of the Year (1956-2006)
The 33-year-old central defender is only
the third defender to win the Ballon d'or ("Golden Ball") -- though the other two, Germans Franz Beckenbauer
, were both known for their attacking skills.
Cannavaro is the sixth Real Madrid player to win the award, having joined the Spanish club from Juventus in July when the
Italian club was relegated for its role in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
The Neapolitan was the heart and soul of the Italy defense that did not allow an opponent to score from the
run of play in seven games at the World Cup. He said he followed a simple regime to keep at the top of his game: good food, lots of sleep and regular sex.