EUROPEAN PLAYER OF YEAR: Ronaldinho runs away with 2005 award

Barcelona star Ronaldinho became the third Brazilian player to win the European Player of the Year award when he captured 2005 honors ahead of Englishmen Frank Lampard, the Chelsea midfield player, and Steven Gerrard of Liverpool.

The Ballon dÆor, organized by Paris magazine France Football celebrated its 50th year, and the result of this yearÆs balloting of European journalists was announced at a gala dinner in Paris attended by many former winners,

The 25-year-old Ronaldinho was the heavy favorite this year. His play for Barcelona has been so spectacular that even fans of rival Real Madrid cheered him during Barca's recent game in Madrid. He also helped Brazil win the 2005 Confederations Cup.

ôTo be here with all those great players applauding me is a dream come true,ö he said. ôThis gives me motivation to keep working and try to emulate them. I have the chance to do for a living what I like the most in life, and thatÆs playing soccer. I can make people happy and enjoy myself at the same time.ö

Ronaldinho follows Brazilians Ronaldo, winner in 1997 and 2002, and Rivaldo, who won the award in 1999, at the top of the podium.
This yearÆs announcement came only two days after the death of 1968 European Player of the Year George Best.

Best had lost his trophy, but Ballon dÆor organizers asked Bobby Charlton and Dennis Law, his teammates at Manchester United and also former European Players of the Year, to receive a replica for BestÆs family.


1, Ronaldinho (Brazil/Barcelona) 225pts;
2, Lampard (England/Chelsea) 148;
3, Gerrard (England/Liverpool) 142;
4, Henry (France/Arsenal) 41;
5, Shevchenko (Ukraine/AC Milan) 33;
6, Maldini (Italy/AC Milan) 23;
7, Adriano (Brazil/Inter Milan) 22;
8, Ibrahimovic (Sweden/Juventus) 21;
9, Kakß (Brazil/AC Milan) 19;
10, EtoÆo (Cameroon/Barcelona), Terry (England/Chelsea) 18;
12, Juninho (Brazil/Lyon) 15;
13, Makelele (France/Chelsea) 8;
14, Ballack (Germany/Bayern Munich), Cech (Czech Rep./Chelsea), Drogba (Ivory Coast/Chelsea), Riquelme (Argentina/Villarreal) 7;
18, Zidane (France/Real Madrid) 5;
19, Buffon (Italy/Juventus) 4;
20, Carragher (England/Liverpool), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Manchester United) 3;
22, Essien (Ghana/Chelsea) 2;
23, Garcfa (Spain/Liverpool), Nedved (Czech Rep./Juventus) 1.


1956: Stanley Matthews (England)
1957: Alfredo Di StTfano (Spain)
1958: Raymond Kopa (France)
1959: Alfredo Di Stefano (Spain)
1960: Luis Suarez (Spain)
1961: Omar Sivori (Italy)
1962: Josef Masopust (Czechoslovakia)
1963: Lev Yashin (USSR)
1964: Denis Law (Scotland)
1965: EusTbio (Portugal)
1966: Bobby Charlton (England)
1967: Florian Albert (Hungary)
1968: George Best (Northern Ireland)
1969: Gianni Rivera (Italy)
1970: Gerd Mnller (Germany)
1971: Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
1972: Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
1973: Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
1974: Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
1975: Oleg Blokhin (USSR)
1976: Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
1977: Alan Simonsen (Denmark)
1978: Kevin Keegan (England)
1979: Kevin Keegan (England)
1980: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Germany)
1981: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Germany)
1982: Paolo Rossi (Italy)
1983: Michel Platini (France)
1984: Michel Platini (France)
1985: Michel Platini (France)
1986: Igor Belanov (USSR)
1987: Ruud Gullit (Netherlands)
1988: Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
1989: Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
1990: Lothar MatthSus (Germany)
1991: Jean-Pierre Papin (France)
1992: Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
1993: Roberto Baggio (Italy)
1994: Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria)
1995: George Weah (Liberia)
1996: Matthias Sammer (Germany)
1997: Ronaldo (Brazil)
1998: Zinedine Zidane (France)
1999: Rivaldo (Brazil)
2000: Luis Figo (Portugal)
2001: Michael Owen (England)
2002: Ronaldo (Brazil)
2003: Pavel Nedved (Czech Rep.)
2004: Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)
2005: Ronaldinho (Brazil)

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