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‘An answer to critics’
- Cannavaro first defender to be World Player Of Year

Madrid: Fabio Cannavaro feels vindicated.

The Italy captain said his Fifa World Player of the Year award would answer critics who complained he shouldn’t have been voted Europe’s best player recently.

Cannavaro received 498 points from international coaches and captains when the Fifa award was announced Monday, relegating Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho into second and third.

The Real Madrid defender’s triumph came three weeks after he won the golden ball for 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 told Real Madrid’s website on Tuesday.

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,” the 33-year-old said.

“I’m happy to have ended that statistic and that a defender has finally won such a title as this.”

Cannavaro, who joined Real Madrid from Juventus in July, said he didn’t feel “the best player in the world.”

“But I do feel I’m a player who has played well in 2006. Real Madrid is a very important team, but I think these prizes are, above all, for winning the World Cup.

I played really well during the World Cup in Germany,” Cannavaro said. Cannavaro said he hopes to display his prizes Wednesday when Madrid plays a Spanish league game against Recreativo Huelva at Santigo Bernabeu Stadium.

While the Italian is suspended following his ejection against Espanyol last Sunday, he is hoping Madrid will succeed with its appeal to have the punishment waived. Television replays suggested the referee was wrong to issue Cannavaro with a second yellow card.

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