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Monday, November 27, 2006

Fabio Cannavaro Wins The Ballon D'Or

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia,
and it has been released into
the public domain.

Fabio Cannavaro of Italy and Real Madrid today won the presitigous Ballon D'Or, or "Golden Ball," from France Football magazine. This award is voted every year by journalists to determine the best player in Europe. Cannavaro is the fourth Italian to win this honor. Before him, Gianni Rivera (1968), Paolo Rossi (1982), and Roberto Baggio (1993.) It is rare for a defender to win this award.

Fabio grew up in the shadows of Stadio San Paolo in Naples. From an early age, he trained with the Napoli youth team. This was during the golden era of Diego Maradona, who brought Napoli their only two Scudettos (Italian Championships) in 1987 and 1990. He was also a ball boy at the 1990 World Cup, which was hosted by Italy. He may be the only former ball boy to ever win a World Cup.

In the past year, he won the Scudetto with Juventus, and the World Cup with the Azzurri, for whom he is the team captain. His play in Germany was faultless, intrepid, courageous, charismatic, and serene. Many may recall his stoned-faced demeanor during the penalty kick shoot-out with France. He now has the affectionate nickname of "Il Muro di Berlino." The Berlin Wall. But don't let the tough exterior fool you. It is rare not to see Fabio was his trademark ear to ear smile. Along with former teammate and fellow Neapolitan, Ciro Ferrara, he created a foundation to assist the youth of Naples.

Fabio Cannavaro: A true champion on and off the pitch.

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