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Who was the final defender to win the Ballon d’Or?

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The Ballon d’Or has been a staple of the soccer calendar since 1956 as a means of recognising the participant believed to have achieved essentially the most over the course of a 12 months.

Conceived by sports activities writers Gabriel Hanot and Jacques Ferran, a jury of journalists would determine on the winner. As of late, every member of the jury makes their prime 5 picks based mostly on three foremost standards and a points-based system determines the winner.

The three standards are performances, each as a person and a part of a crew, a participant’s class based mostly on expertise and truthful play, in addition to general judgement of a participant’s profession.

The Ballon d’Or was additionally initially referred to as the ‘European Footballer of the 12 months’ award because it was solely open to gamers from Europe, infamously excluding the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona.

This was the case for practically 40 years till 1995 when it was opened as much as all gamers based mostly at European golf equipment – Liberian ahead George Weah turned the primary non-European winner that very 12 months – whereas 2007 it turned really international for any skilled participant at any membership around the globe.

Revered journal France Soccer introduced the award from 1956 till 2009, with FIFA then approaching board from 2010 onwards and mixing it with the rival FIFA World Participant of the 12 months prize to create a brand new FIFA Ballon d’Or. However that merger solely lasted till 2015.

Since 2016, it has merely been the Ballon d’Or introduced by France Soccer as soon as extra.

It’s normally troublesome for defenders to get the identical sort of particular person recognition as attackers. In spite of everything, soccer has at all times been extra about scoring targets whereas stopping them turns into an afterthought.

But defensive gamers haven’t been completely absent from the Ballon d’Or historical past books. In truth, legendary England centre-back Billy Wright was runner-up within the second version of the award means again in 1957. Franz Beckenbauer was the primary defender to win it, doing so in 1972 and once more in 1976, whereas fellow German sweeper Matthias Sammer was later honoured in 1996.

The final defender to win the Ballon d’Or, and truly nonetheless the one non-German, was Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. It was goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon who got here second behind his Italy and Juventus teammate, beating third place Thierry Henry.

On prime of the Ballon d’Or, Cannavaro additionally obtained the rival FIFA World Participant of the 12 months prize to make him the one defender to win that over the course of its whole 19-year existence.

Why did Fabio Cannavaro win the Ballon d’Or in 2006?

The primary factor that underpinned Cannavaro’s Ballon d’Or win was the 2006 World Cup.

The talismanic centre-back captained Italy to what was really a fairly surprising triumph when the likes of Brazil, England and France have been closely fancied earlier than the event.

As a footballing nation, Italy was additionally embroiled within the Calciopoli scandal that noticed Juventus stripped of Serie A titles and relegated, in addition to AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina sanctioned. That made their World Cup triumph all of the extra particular and Cannavaro particularly embodied that siege mentality and spirit greater than another participant together with his performances.

2006 additionally noticed 33-year-old Cannavaro win Serie A Defender of the 12 months for the second consecutive 12 months, in addition to Serie A Footballer of the 12 months.

The mixture of Juve’s relegation and his excellent World Cup earned Cannavaro a cut-price switch to Actual Madrid, the place he completed the calendar 12 months and would later win back-to-back La Liga titles.

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