, Cavaliere Ufficiale OMRI
(born 13 September, 1973 in Naples, Italy) is an Italian World Cup-winning
footballer who plays for Serie A club Juventus.
He won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2006, making him the first
and so far only defender to win the award, as well as the oldest recipient.
Before moving to Real Madrid in Spain, Cannavaro played most of his club
career in the Italian Serie A league. The clubs he played for includes his
hometown side Napoli, Parma, with whom he achieved significant domestic cup
and European success, Juventus, where he won two later revoked scudetto
titles, and Internazionale.
Cannavaro was born in Naples to Gelsomina and Pasquale Cannavaro. His
mother worked as a maid, while his father was a bank clerk; his father also
played football for provincial side Giugliano.
As a youngster Cannavaro played for a team from Bagnoli before being quickly
spotted by the scouts of Napoli, his childhood team.
He is well known for his fierce defending and interception. During his
career Cannavaro has earned world wide prominence, winning many personal
accolades. For example he was the first ever defender to win FIFA World
Player of the Year. He was also selected in the FIFPro World XI squad twice,
during 2005–06 and 2006–07.
Cannavaro playing at Madrid
Cannavaro initially served as the club's ballboy, and his progress as a
player was such that he became a member of the first team alongside some of
his childhood idols. Cannavaro's debut in Serie A came on 7 March 1993 in
Turin for a game against Juventus. The post-Maradona Napoli were in
desperate need of funds and were soon forced to sell Cannavaro to Parma,
where Cannavaro won the UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia, and was named the Serie A
Defender of the Year.
In the summer of 2001, Cannavaro joined Internazionale for a fee of €23
million. During his spell with the club he reached the semi-finals of the
UEFA Champions League 2002-03 and also finished runners up in Serie A. His
second season was not as productive and he missed a large chunk of it
After a two-year stint, he signed for Juventus on summer transfer window
deadline day. The deal also involved the exchange of Fabian Carini who left
for Inter and an additional €10 million. By coming to Turin, he re-joined
his ex-Parma teammates Lilian Thuram and Gianluigi Buffon, and together the
threesome formed one of the most feared defences in the Serie A. They went
on won two consecutive Scudetti in 2005 and 2006, though both were
later revoked due to the Calciopoli scandal. Juventus captain Cannavaro won
l'Oscar del Calcio: Migliore difensore, the Football Oscar, for his
exceptional debut season at the Turin giants.
After the 2006 World Cup, the Calciopoli trial verdicts relegated
Juventus to Serie B and stripped the club of its 2004-2005 and 2005-2006
Scudetti. Since Juventus was ineligible to qualify for the UEFA Champions
League, Cannavaro decided to leave. "Even if I know this may be hard to
believe, I would have stayed at Juventus had they remained in Serie A – even
with a 30-point deduction.". He followed coach Fabio Capello to Real
Madrid and inherited the number 5 shirt of the legendary Zinédine Zidane.
Although no fee was confirmed by either club, press speculation has often
set the combined transfer's worth at roughly €20 million. On July 25, he
officially signed a three-year contract. Cannavaro spent three seasons at
Madrid, winning the La Liga title in 2006-07 and 2007-08, and was named the
2006 FIFA World Player of the Year during his time there. On May 19 2009, it
was confirmed that Cannavaro would return to Juventus for the 2009-10 season
on the expiration of his contact with Real Madrid
Cannavaro's first taste of international success came over a decade ago
under coach Cesare Maldini with Italy's U-21 side, winning consecutive
European Under-21 Football Championship titles in 1994 and 1996. In 1996, he
participated in the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He played for his country in
the 1998, 2002, and 2006 World Cups, as well as Euro 2000 and Euro 2004.
Cannavaro made his international debut in January 1997 against Northern
Ireland and has since earned 126 caps.
Cannavaro's first international tournament came at 1998 FIFA World Cup
under the mentorship of veteran defender Paolo Maldini, and the squad was
coached by Maldini's father Cesare. Italy went out in the quarter-finals to
hosts and eventual champions France; Cannavaro suffered a cut on his
forehead from an elbow by Stéphane Guivarc'h during the match. The match was
decided by a penalty shoot-out after the teams were tied 0-0.
In Euro 2000, it was Les Bleus who once again shattered Italy's
dreams. Cannavaro had a strong tournament, playing as right-back, and the
Azzurri reached the final, where they led the then world champions 1-0
going into injury time. Near the end of regular time, Sylvain Wiltord found
the equalizer, and an extra-time golden goal from David Trézéguet gave
France the title.
At the 2002 FIFA World Cup he was credited with holding the defence
together, almost single-handedly after Alessandro Nesta was injured against
Croatia. Italy however went out in the second round, losing to co-hosts and
eventual semi-finalists South Korea, again to a golden goal.
Cannavaro had a hard act to follow when he took over as captain from
Maldini after the 2002 World Cup, but he quickly won the team over with his
constant smile, laid-back Neapolitan approach and inspiring performances.
After Maldini's international retirement he first captained Italy in a match
at Napoli and received a standing ovation on the pitch where he sported the
local side's colours between 1991 and 1995.
Cannavaro's first international goal was scored on 30 May 2004 against
Tunisia, Italy won 4-0. Euro 2004, which was hosted by Portugal, turned out
to be a disappointment. Cannavaro picked up yellow cards during the two
draws with Denmark (0-0) and Sweden (1-1), forcing him to sit out the final
group game. Italy defeated Bulgaria 2-1, but failed to advance on goal
2006 World Cup
Cannavaro captained Italy throughout their 2006 World Cup campaign. One
of his key performances came against Germany in the World Cup Semi-Finals
2006. His crowning moment was lifting the World Cup on
July 9, 2006,
the night of his 100th cap. Cannavaro did not receive a single yellow or red
card during the 690 minutes he played in the tournament.
Along with Buffon, Cannavaro played every minute of every match in the
tournament for Italy. The Italian defence conceded only two goals throughout
the entire tournament, an own-goal against the United States and a Zidane
penalty in the final against France.
With the injury of defensive partner Alessandro Nesta Cannavaro somehow
managed to hold the defense together, earning him a spot on the All-Star
Team at the end of the competition - awarded by FIFA's Technical Study Group
- alongside six other Italian teammates, Gianluigi Buffon, Gennaro Gattuso,
Andrea Pirlo, Luca Toni, Francesco Totti and Gianluca Zambrotta. He was
runner-up in the race for the Golden Ball, finishing behind French
counterpart Zinédine Zidane; it was a close contest with Zidane polling 2012
points to Cannavaro's 1977.
On June 2, 2008, Fabio Cannavaro was injured during Italy's first
training session for Euro 2008. Cannavaro sustained the knock following a
tackle by fellow defender Giorgio Chiellini and was carried off the field on
a stretcher. Italy doctor Paolo Zeppilli said: "We have to do tests but it
does not look like a minor injury". Test had shown that he tore ligaments in
his left ankle. Right after the examinations, Italian journalists awaited
Cannavaro, who told them: "I'm going home", with a melancholic smile on his
face. After the day was over, Roberto Donadoni called up Fiorentina
centre-back Alessandro Gamberini as his official replacement. Goalkeeper
Gianluigi Buffon captained the team in his place. Cannavaro added he will
stay with the squad to offer support. This would have been Cannavaro's third
Cannavaro has also put his plans to retire from the national team after
Euro 2008 on hold and added that it has made him more determined to captain
Italy through the 2010 World Cup.
Record Breaking Caps
In a 2009 Confederations Cup match against Brazil, Fabio Cannavaro
equalled Paolo Maldini's record of being Italy's most capped player.
Fabio is married to Daniela Cannavaro, and together they have 3 children,
Christian, Martina, and Andrea.
His younger brother, Paolo Cannavaro, is also a defender, and plays for
Napoli. The two brothers were first spotted by an English scout when Fabio
was only twelve. Michael Hutchinson (who was working for Newcastle United at
the time) decided to personally train them as central defenders, having
sixteen years of experience as a professional central defender himself. The
two brothers played alongside each other at Parma from 2000 until 2002, when
Fabio left for Inter. His mother, Gelsomina, worked as a maid and his
father, Pasquale, was a bank clerk. Although they are no longer playing
together, Fabio has expressed interest in ending his career with Paolo in a
With his fellow Napoletano Ciro Ferrara, Cannavaro has helped establish a
charity foundation, Fondazione Cannavaro Ferrara, specialising in the
procurement of cancer research equipment and surgery for special cases of
cancer for a hospital in their native Naples.
Fabio has also stated in a 2007 issue of League Magazine, when asked
about women he has said that he has a fondness towards Asian women,
especially those of Indian and Chinese descent, saying "the most beautiful
of women lie in Asia, that in India and China, they are truly walking
goddesses". He is still fully committed to Daniela for many years.
The night before the 1999 UEFA Cup Final, a video tape was released which
showed Cannavaro being injected with a substance. The substance was found to
be neoton, which is a drug and a creatine phosphate used in cardiac surgery,
and is not on the banned substance list. No action was ever taken.
- Coppa Italia: 1999, 2002
- Supercoppa Italiana: 1999
- UEFA Cup: 1999
- La Liga: 2006-07, 2007-08
- Supercopa de España : 2008
- UEFA Under-21 European Championship: 1994, 1996
- FIFA World Cup: 2006
- Euro 2000 Team of the Tournament
- FIFA World Player of the Year: 2006
- Ballon d'Or: 2006
- 2006 FIFA World Cup Silver Ball Award
- 2006 FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament
- Oscar del calcio
- Serie A Footballer of the Year: 2006
- Italian Footballer of the Year: 2006
- Serie A Defender of the Year: 2005, 2006
- - Runner-up: 2000, 2001, 2002
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2006
- FIFPro World XI: 2006, 2007
Fabio Cannavaro, We know your heart is with Napoli. Please
return to Napoli wearing a blue shirt is priceless, Toni Ciccocelli ( Napolitano
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