Cannavaro, Fabio

▪ 2007
 Italian association football (soccer) star Fabio Cannavaro achieved his crowning glory in 2006 when he led Italy to its fourth Fédération Interationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup title, gaining the honour in what was his 100th international match. He was also runner-up in the Golden Ball award for the best player in the tournament, which was held June 24–July 9 in Germany. He was on the field for the entire 690 minutes that Italy played, and, displaying exemplary conduct throughout, he was not cautioned once. Although he was a relatively short 1.75 m (just under 5 ft 9 in), Cannavaro exhibited a skill at jumping higher than opposing forwards—allied to an almost sixth sense of anticipation on the ground, split-second interceptions, and a powerful physical presence—that made him one of the most standout central defenders ever produced by Italy. In the final against France, he demonstrated his immovability when the French striker Thierry Henry ran into him and had to be assisted from the field for treatment.

      Cannavaro was ball boy in the 1990 World Cup semifinal between Argentina and Italy and was already a member of the Italian youth international team at the time. He quickly progressed to the Under-21 side that won the European championship in 1994 and 1995. He was in the squad that represented Italy at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and in 1997 he made his debut for the full national team, known as the Azzurri, against Northern Ireland. Thereafter he became an institution in the Azzurri, taking over the team captaincy in 2002. Cannavaro played in the World Cup final competitions in 1998 and 2002, as well as the European championships of 2000 (when Italy was the runner-up) and 2004. By 2006 he had also completed a career 394 Serie A matches in Italy.

      Cannavaro was born in Naples on Sept. 13, 1973. He started his career with his local Naples team and made his first senior appearance at Juventus on March 7, 1993. He first came to prominence with Parma (1995–2002), where among other honours he won a UEFA Cup winners medal in 1999. He later played with Internazionale (2002–04) and Juventus (2004–06), where he received the L'Oscar del Calcio for his first impressive season. In 2006 the two Serie A titles that he won with Juventus (in 2005 and 2006) were stripped away when the club was found guilty of match fixing and relegated to Serie B. After the World Cup, and in the wake of the scandal, he was traded to the Spanish club Real Madrid. Together with his former teammate Ciro Ferrara, Cannavaro set up a foundation in Naples for research into the treatment of cancer.

Jack Rollin

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▪ Italian athlete
born Sept. 13, 1973, Naples, Italy

      Italian professional football (soccer) player who led his country to a 2006 World Cup victory.

      At age 11 Cannavaro began playing on the junior team for the S.S.C. Napoli (Naples) soccer club. In 1993 he was asked to play with Napoli's first team—at the highest level of Italian professional soccer. He performed solidly for them for two years before moving to Parma F.C., where he helped his new team win two Italian cups, the UEFA Cup, and the Italian Super Cup. In 2001 Cannavaro was named captain of the team. In 2002 he joined F.C. Internazionale (Inter Milan), where he spent two seasons, and then played for Juventus F.C. in Turin for two seasons. In 2006, after a match-rigging scandal, he announced that he was leaving Italian football to play with Real Madrid in Spain.

      The most significant year of his career was 2006. As captain, Cannavaro led the Italian national team to a World Cup victory over France. He was named Best Italian Player and Best Defender by the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (Italian Footballers Association). Cannavaro went on to become the first defender in the 16-year history of the award to be named World Player of the Year by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). In 2006 he was named European Footballer of the Year, becoming the first Italian so honoured since 1993 and only the third defender ever to claim this distinction.

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Universalium. 2010.

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