|Date of Birth
||13 September 1973
|Place of Birth
There’s no question Fabio Cannavaro is one of the best centre-backs in the world. He possesses superb tactical awareness, speed, anticipation skills, phenomenal leaping ability and ball handling skills, and he’s a natural leader.
Cannavaro began playing for Napoli when he was 16-years old and he debuted in the Serie A four years later against Juventus. Most of his career, however, was spent with Parma, where he, Lilian Thuram, and Gianluigi Buffon comprised one of the most-feared defences in the Calcio history. Together they won a UEFA Cup, two Italian Cups, and an Italian Super Cup. Cannavaro joined Inter Milan in the summer of 2002 and played there for two seasons, the latter of which he missed a large part of due to injury.
He then signed for Italian powerhouse Juventus, where he rejoined former teammates Thuram and Buffon and was Fabio Capello’s right-hand man on the pitch. Although Cannavaro has received numerous personal accolades and won a World Cup, one title eludes him: the Champions League, one of his main reasons for signing for Real Madrid in 2006.
Cannavaro won two Under-21 European Championships with Italy and was a member of the Azzurri squad at the 1996 Olympic Games. He debuted with the national team in 1997, a 2-0 defeat over Northern Ireland, and has been a mainstay ever since. His 100th cap just happened to be the 2006 World Cup Final against France. Only Paolo Maldini (126) and Dino Zoff (112) have more international appearances for Italy.
A brilliant 2006
Cannavaro was one of Juventus’ main contributors during their two consecutive Scudetto’s, but both were stripped after a match-fixing scandal rocked the Serie A. The World Cup began shortly after the 2006 Calcio wrapped up and Cannavaro and the Azzurrri became world champions by defeating France in the Final, which was also Zinedine Zidane’s last match as a professional footballer. The icing on the cake for Fabio was putting pen to paper to ink his deal with Real and inheriting Zidane’s number ‘5’ shirt, something he considered an “honour for any player.”
But there was plenty more in store. After winning the Ballon d’Or presented by 52 France Football writers, Fabio was quoted as saying, “Kids may not mind playing in defence now and will perhaps want to be Cannavaro.” A few days later he was included in FIFPro’s World XI by 43,000 professional football players from all around the world, and on 18 December he was named the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, becoming the first defender to ever receive the award.