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Cannavaro claims Ballon d'Or

Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro has been voted European Footballer of the Year.

Fabio Cannavaro has been voted European Footballer of the Year, with Gianluigi Buffon second and Thierry Henry third.

Click here for previous winners

Experienced centre half Cannavaro has claimed the coveted Ballon d'Or award after captaining Italy to World Cup success.

He also led Juventus to the Serie A title before the Italian giants were stripped of the honour for their role in the match-fixing scandal.

After the World Cup finals, Cannavaro followed his former Juve coach Fabio Capello to Real Madrid and he had been widely tipped to win the prize.

Cannavaro was delighted to be voted the 2006 winner and he becomes just the third defender to be named European Footballer of the Year after German duo Franz Beckenbauer and Matthias Sammer.

"Of course I will bring this trophy back to Madrid, but I would also love to bring it to Turin," said Cannavaro.

"My season at Juventus was just outstanding. I played 37 matches and scored four goals, all decisive."

He also offered his gratitude to his team-mates, adding: "It is thanks to them that I have been able to show my qualities on the pitch.

"So I want to thank my Juve team-mates and all my colleagues from the Nazionale."

Second spot in the voting went to Buffon, who was Italy's keeper at the World Cup and opted to stay at Juventus after the club's demotion to Serie B.

Arsenal captain Henry took third place after inspiring The Gunners to the UEFA Champions League final, and also helping France reach the World Cup final.

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