CANNAVARO IS A PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was celebrated as part of Monday evening's entertainment at the Zurich Opera House. To mark the 250th anniversary of his birth, the Austrian composer was toasted by the great and the good of world football, assembled for the FIFA World Player Gala 2006 under the theme 'Football meets Mozart'. At the end of a star-studded evening the suspense was finally lifted as this year's FIFA World Player and FIFA Women's World Player were announced. And in the esteemed opinion of the world's national coaches and captains, Fabio Cannavaro and Marta were the outstanding male and female performers of an action-packed 2006. Those were not the only awards to be handed out at a beautifully orchestrated one-and-a-half hour gala. Hosted by Ruud Gullit and Amanda McLane, the musical backdrop to the ceremony was provided by excerpts from Mozart's finest opera, 'The Magic Flute', performed by the Zurich Opera House Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev. The 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ was the focal point for the first accolades of the evening, which were preceded by a video of the tournament's many highlights. The crowning moment of the night was then upon us as the six FIFA World Player 2006 nominees were presented to the audience - the three female contenders Kristine Lilly, Renate Lingor and Marta followed by their male counterparts Fabio Cannavaro, Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane. After finishing third in 2004 and second last year, Brazil's Marta went one better this time and was almost at a loss for words as she gave her thanks. Fabio Cannavaro was next into the spotlight as he stepped up to accept the men's award. The world champion and European Player of the Year rounded off an amazing 2006 in perfect style, and the fulsome recognition of his peers drew an ecstatic response from the Italian defender. "I'm very moved, it's incredible," he said. "This year I've been champion of Italy, a World Cup winner, a Ballon d'Or winner and now this. I thank the coaches and captains who voted. And I dedicate this award to Italian football, that managed to overcome its big problems."