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Cannavaro Becomes First Defender to Win FIFA Award

Fabio Cannavaro feels that any doubts surrounding his Ballon d'Or award earlier in the year were quelled Monday as the Real Madrid and Italy defender was named FIFA's World Player of the Year, with a resounding 498 points. France's retired midfielder, Zinedine Zidane, came second, and Brazil's two-time defending winner Ronaldinho finished third. The Ballon d'Or, also called the European Player of the Year award, is voted on by a France Football poll of 52 journalists; at the time, many felt the award should have gone to a more attacking player. "Now, all the people who spoke before, when I won the Golden Ball, have shut their mouths now the coaches and players from national teams have given me this prize and this recognition," Cannavaro told Real Madrid's Web site on Tuesday. He is the first defender to win the FIFA award since its inception in 1991. "I'm happy to have ended that statistic and that a defender has finally won such a title as this," the 33-year old said, though he admitted that he didn't feel like the best player in the world. "I do feel I'm a player who has played well in 2006. Real Madrid is a very important team but I think these prizes are, above all, for winning the World Cup. I played really well during the World Cup in Germany." And Italy did win it; these are usually prerequisites for winning the award in a World Cup year. Cannavaro's award buoys the disappointment of being wrongly sent-off against Espanyol over the weekend while playing for Real Madrid.

Read the whole story at Associated Press »

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