Friday, 17 November 2006

Cannavaro wins Ballon d'Or - reports

Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro has been named European Footballer of the Year by France Football magazine, according to Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon.

"The joy at Cannavaro winning the Ballon d'Or has been overshadowed by the sad news of the death of Ferenc Puskas," said Calderon.

The 33-year-old centre-back, who captained the Azzurri to victory at the World Cup in Germany, joined Real in July.

The European Footballer of the Year award is based on a vote by European football journalists. France Football is due to officially name the award winner on 27 November.

Cannavaro, who will replace Barcelona's Ronaldinho as last year's winner, will become only the third defender to be awarded the title after Franz Beckenbauer and Matthias Sammer.

Earlier on Friday Spanish daily Marca had claimed France Football's editor had visited the former Parma and inter defender to confirm he had won the award.

After winning the Scudetto with Juventus before it was revoked, he led his country to World Cup glory against France in Berlin, and then completed a move to the Spanish giants.

The Italian media also reported he had won the award, with the Gazzetta dello Sport announcing: "Cannavaro, it's all true." The Corriere della Sera declared: "Golden Ball to Cannavaro".

Cannavaro is one of seven nominated players from the Italian team that captured its fourth World Cup title. He would be the fourth Italian to win the award after Gianni Rivera (1969), Paolo Rossi (1982) and Roberto Baggio (1993).

"If Cannavaro has really won it, it would be absolutely deserved," Rossi was quoted as saying by Gazzetta.

Former AC Milan legend Rivera said: "I would have chosen Gianluigi Buffon but if it is true that Fabio is to win it, I'm happy anyway."

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