Chelsea made it into the last 16 despite losing, but rivals Barcelona must beat Bremen in 2 weeks if they want to make it through. Click here for the latest Champions League odds!

Real Madrid’s Italian defender, Fabio Cannavaro, has been named European Footballer of the Year.

Cannavaro, who led Italy to World Cup success in Germany in the summer, becomes the fourth Italian player to win the prestigious award.

His former Juventus teammate, Gianluigi Buffon, came second, with Arsenal’s French striker Thierry Henry in third spot. Last year’s winner Ronaldinho finished fourth in this year’s poll, just ahead of Zinedine Zidane, who retired from the game after the World Cup final.

He is one of a select band of defenders to be named European Footballer of the Year, the last one being Germany’s Matthias Sammer in 1996.

Cannavaro paid tribute not only to his national team but also to Juventus who were relegated to Serie B for their part in the Italian match-fixing scandal.

“Of course I will bring this trophy back to Madrid but I would also love to bring it to Turin,” Cannavaro, who joined Real Madrid from Juventus in July, told a news conference.

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

The 33-year-old defender won the vote by 52 journalists organised by France Football magazine.

“It is late recognition for our World Cup victory,” said Cannavaro, the first Italian player since Roberto Baggio in 1993 to win the award.

Cannavaro said the team performances of Juventus and Italy had been integral to his success.

“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,” he said.

Cannavaro also had thoughts for Naples, the city were he was born and raised.

“I would like to show the trophy to Naples as it is a very special city, where I grew up. I used to play football in the streets of Naples,” he said.

“I would love to show it to the kids who are in difficulty over there.”

However, Cannavaro admitted that he lagged behing Diego Maradona in the Neapolitans’ hearts.

“Diego is someone very special in Naples. If I am proud for Naples to win this award, I cannot say I am even close of Maradona in this city,” he said.

Votes cast:
1. Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus/Real Madrid), 173 points
2. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), 124
3. Thierry Henry (Arsenal), 121
4. Ronaldinho (Barcelona), 73
5. Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid), 71
6. Sameul Eto’o (Barcelona), 67
7. Miroslav Klose (Werder Bremen), 29
8. Didier Drogba (Chelsea), 25
9. Andrea Pirlo (Milan), 17
10. Jens Lehmann (Arsenal), 13.

11. Deco (Barcelona), Kaka (Milan), 11.
13. Ribery (Marseille), 9.
14. Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester Utd.), Gattuso (Milan), Vieira (Inter), 5.
17. Lampard (Chelsea), Podolski (Bayern Monaco), Puyol (Barcellona), 3.
20. Juninho (Lyon), Messi (Barcelona), Terry (Chelsea), Toni (Fiorentina), Zambrotta (Barcelona) 2.
25. Lahm (Bayern Munich), Villa (Valencia), 1.

Previous winners:
1956 – Stanley Matthews (England)
1957 – Alfredo di Stefano (Spain)
1958 – Raymond Kopa (France)
1959 – Alfredo di Stefano (Spain)
1960 – Luis Suarez (Spain)
1961 – Omar Sivori (Italy)
1962 – Josef Masopust (Czechoslovakia)
1963 – Lev Yashin (Soviet Union)
1964 – Denis Law (Scotland)
1965 – Eusebio (Portugal)
1966 – Bobby Charlton (England)
1967 – Florian Albert (Hungary)
1968 – George Best (Northern Ireland)
1969 – Gianni Rivera (Italy)
1970 – Gerd Mueller (West Germany)
1971 – Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
1972 – Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
1973 – Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
1974 – Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
1975 – Oleg Blokhin (Soviet Union)
1976 – Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)
1977 – Allan Simonsen (Denmark)
1978 – Kevin Keegan (England)
1979 – Kevin Keegan (England)
1980 – Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany)
1981 – Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany)
1982 – Paolo Rossi (Italy)
1983 – Michel Platini (France)
1984 – Michel Platini (France)
1985 – Michel Platini (France)
1986 – Igor Belanov (Soviet Union)
1987 – Ruud Gullit (Netherlands)
1988 – Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
1989 – Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
1990 – Lothar Matthaus (Germany)
1991 – Jean-Pierre Papin (France)
1992 – Marco van Basten (Netherlands)
1993 – Roberto Baggio (Italy)
1994 – Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria)
1995 – George Weah (Liberia)
1996 – Matthias Sammer (Germany)
1997 – Ronaldo (Brazil)
1998 – Zinedine Zidane (France)
1999 – Rivaldo (Brazil)
2000 – Luis Figo (Portugal)
2001 – Michael Owen (England)
2002 – Ronaldo (Brazil)
2003 – Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic)
2004 – Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)
2005 – Ronaldinho (Brazil)
2006 – Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)

Chelsea made it into the last 16 despite losing, but rivals Barcelona must beat Bremen in 2 weeks if they want to make it through. Click here for the latest Champions League odds!