Fabio Cannavaro has completed an unforgettable year by being named as FIFA World Player of 2006.
The Real Madrid defender has this evening been officially named as the winner by beating the now retired Zinedine Zidane and reigning champion Ronaldinho of Barcelona.
Cannavaro, who was named as the Golden Ball winner by France Football magazine in November, becomes the first defender to net the honour. The Napoli-born star also becomes only the second Italian to top the poll after Roberto Baggio in 1993.
"For me it's a great honour to be here, because it has been an incredible season," said Cannavaro. "The competition is scary, so strong. It's not usual for a defender to sit between Ronaldinho and Zidane. Of course it must be a great compliment for the Coaches I've had this year. It also underscores the way I am playing - and look at the matches we are playing in the teams I've had, and at Real. I can't ask for anything else, with the World Cup and Golden Ball award - you can't do any better than that."
Votes were compiled by FIFA who asked every coach and captain of each national team under their umbrella to pick their top three players of 2006.
Cannavaro - the seventh man to collect the FIFA Award/Golden Ball double - grabbed 498 votes, Zidane finished second with 454 and Ronaldinho got 380.
The Italy captain, 33, has had a quite wonderful last 12 months at both domestic and international level. He won the Scudetto with Juventus, which was later revoked, before he led the Azzurri to World Cup glory in Germany. The former Inter and Parma defender then joined Real Madrid after the Bianconeri were demoted.
Meanwhile, former Inter legend Giacinto Facchetti was given the Presidential Award at the FIFA World Player Gala for his contribution to football. Facchetti, whose children Gianfelice and Barbara picked up the tribute, sadly passed away in September.
Fabio Cannavaro Profile >>>
Fabio Cannavaro Interview >>>