World award has forced my critics to shut up, says Cannavaro

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The Independent Football

Fabio Cannavaro feels vindicated. The Italy captain said his Fifa World Player of the Year award would answer critics who complained he should not have been voted Europe's best player recently.

Cannavaro received 498 points from international coaches and captains when the Fifa award was announced on Monday, beating Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho. The Real Madrid defender's triumph came three weeks after he won the Golden Ball for the top European player in France Football magazine's poll of 52 journalists. Some felt this prize should have been won by a more attacking player.

"Now, all the people who spoke before, when I won the Golden Ball, have shut their mouths now the coaches and players from national teams have given me this prize and this recognition," Cannavaro said.

Cannavaro, the first defender to win the Fifa award since its inception in 1991, said his prize would encourage other defenders. "From today, every defender can aspire to an award like the Fifa World Player because only forwards and midfielders had won it up to now," he said.

Cannavaro, who joined Real Madrid from Juventus in July, said he did not feel like "the best player in the world". "But I played well in 2006. These prizes are for winning the World Cup. I played really well in it."