Monday, March 14, 2011

Fabio Cannavaro

Fabio Cannavaro (born 13 September 1973 in Naples, Italy) is an Italian footballer who plays as a centre back for the UAE Football League club Al-Ahli Dubai. He spent the majority of his career in Italy. He started his career at Napoli, before spending seven years at Parma, with whom he won two Coppa Italias and the 1999 UEFA Cup. After spells at Internazionale and Juventus, Cannavaro transferred along with manager Fabio Capello from Juventus to Real Madrid, with whom he won consecutive La Liga titles in 2007 and 2008. After returning to Juventus for one season in 2009–10, he joined current club Al-Ahli. He is often noted to be one of the greatest defenders in the modern era. Cannavaro has also achieved success with the Italian national team. He was part of the Italy team that won consecutive Under-21 European Championships in 1994 and 1996. After earning his first senior cap in 1997, he eventually became captain. Cannavaro led Italy to victory in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and in 2009 overtook Paolo Maldini as the most capped player in the country's history. He announced his retirement from international football on 25 June 2010 following Italy's failure to qualify for the knock-out stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, having amassed 136 and scored 2 goals for the national team. 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. Cannavaro's younger brother Paolo is also a professional footballer. Cannavaro was born in Naples to Gelsomina Costanzo 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. He has an elder sister named Renata, who was married at the age of 15. He also has a younger brother named Paolo, who also plays football. As a youngster Cannavaro played for a team from Bagnoli before being quickly spotted by the scouts of Napoli, his childhood team.

Fabio Cannavaro is the best

Cannavaro initially served as the club's ball boy and would often watch his idols Diego Maradona and Ciro Ferrara play. 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 Torino 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. Cannavaro remained at Napoli until 1995, earning nearly 60 total appearances with one goal.In the summer of 2002, Cannavaro joined Internazionale for a fee reported €23 million. During his spell with the club he reached the semi-finals of the 2002–03 Champions League and also finished runners-up in Serie A. His second season was not as productive and he missed a large chunk of it through injury. After two years with the club, he was sold to Juventus in a part-exchange deal, after just over 50 appearances and two goals.After a two-year stint, he signed for Juventus on the summer transfer window deadline day. The deal also involved the exchange of reserve goalkeeper, Fabian Carini who left for Inter, both players priced €10 million. By coming to Torino, 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, along with the likes of Gianluca Zambrotta, Nicola Legrottaglie, Alessandro Birindelli, Giorgio Chiellini, Jonathan Zebina, and Federico Balzaretti. They went on to win two consecutive Scudetti in 2005 and 2006. Cannavaro also 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. Since Juventus was ineligible to qualify for the 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 Fabio Capello to Real Madrid in the summer of 2006. In his two year Scudetto winning stint with Juventus, Cannavaro racked up over 100 total appearances in all competitions. Cannavaro's first taste of international success came over in the mid '90s under coach Cesare Maldini with Italy's U-21 side, winning two consecutive European Under-21 Championship titles in 1994 and 1996. In 1996, he participated also at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He made his debut with the Italian national team on 22 January 1997, in a friendly game against Northern Ireland. He played for his country in the 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010 World Cups, as well as in the 2000 and 2004 European Championships. Cannavaro's first international tournament came at 1998 World Cup under the mentorship of 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 but played the remainder of the match after receiving treatment. The Azzurri managed to push the game to a 0–0 draw but 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 one of three centre-backs alongside Maldini and Mark Iuliano. 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 Trezeguet gave France the title. At the 2002 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 difference.

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 9 July 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. Even with usual defensive partner Nesta out due to injury 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 five other Italian teammates, Gianluigi Buffon, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Luca Toni, and Gianluca Zambrotta. He was runner-up in the race for the Golden Ball, finishing behind French counterpart Zinedine Zidane; it was a close contest with Zidane polling 2012 points to Cannavaro's 1977. On 2 June 2008, 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." Tests 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. Del Piero captained the team in his place. Cannavaro added he will stay with the squad to offer support. This would have been Cannavaro's third Euro tournament. 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. In a 2009 Confederations Cup match against Brazil, Cannavaro equalled Paolo Maldini's record of being Italy's most capped player. On 12 August 2009, in a friendly match against Switzerland, Cannavaro became Italy's most capped player of all time. He won his 127th cap for his country, beating Maldini's former record of 126.Cannavaro captained Italy at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The defending champions crashed out of the competition losing to Slovakia after drawing against New Zealand and Paraguay. Following Italy's failure to progress past the group stage, Cannavaro announced his retirement from international football.

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