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Fabio Cannavaro (born 13 September 1973 in Naplesmarker, Italymarker) 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. With 131 caps he is the all time most capped player of the Italian national team.


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 Naplesmarker 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 second ever defender to win FIFA World Player of the Year after the first ever winner of the award Lothar Matthäus, who was mostly playeed as a central defender or a sweeper, and only secondly and sparingly as a defensive midfielder. He was also selected in the FIFPro World XI squad twice, during 2005–06 and 2006–07.

Club career

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 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 reported €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 through injury.

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. By coming to Turinmarker, 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 to win 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 2004-05 and 2005-06 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 Zinedine Zidane. Real Madrid paid €7million for the player. 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 19 May 2009, it was confirmed that Cannavaro would return to Juventus for the 2009-10 season on the expiration of his contact with Real Madrid

International career

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 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, and 2006 World Cups, as well as Euro 2000 and Euro 2004.

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 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 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 Trezeguet 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 difference.

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 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 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 Zinedine Zidane; it was a close contest with Zidane polling 2012 points to Cannavaro's 1977.

Euro 2008

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. 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 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.

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. On August 12, 2009 in a friendly match against Switzerland, Fabio Cannavaro became Italy's most capped player of all time. He won his 127th cap for his country beating Paolo Maldini's former record of 126.

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. May 30, 2004 Radèsmarker, Tunisiamarker 0–4 Win Friendly
2. February 6, 2008 Zurich, Switzerlandmarker 3–1 Win Friendly


Fabio is married to Daniela Cannavaro, and together they have 3 children, Christian, Martina, and Andrea.

His younger brother Paolo is also a defender who currently 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. Although they are no longer playing together, Fabio has expressed interest in ending his career with Paolo in a Napoli shirt.

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".


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 (Phosphocreatine) which is used in cardiac surgery to protect the heart during periods of anoxia and stress. It is not on the banned substance list. This chemical is, in partnership with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) fundamental to the ability of the body to produce muscular energy. Phosphocreatine is formed naturally within the body, with over 95% of the compound stored within the muscle cells. Approximately 5 oz (120 g) of phosphocreatine is present in the body of a healthy adult; the levels of the compound do not fluctuate to a significant degree. When phosphocreatine stores become reduced, the body replenishes its supply from one of two sources. The first source is amino acids, the muscle- and tissue-building blocks present in all proteins. The liver produces phosphocreatine from amino acids. The body also receives dietary creatine primarily through the consumption of meat. No action was ever taken regarding this incident.

On 8 October 2009, Cannavaro failed a drug test. However, Juventus claimed that the drugs were medicine for a severe allergic reaction to a wasp sting, and not performance enhancing. Because of the urgent nature of the treatment, Cannavaro could not ask for permission to CONI in time, which was done immediately afterwards. Apparently while awaiting the conclusion of formalities involved for CONI with granting this permission, he was subjected to the drug test that eventually gave the positive result. CONI later dropped charges against him.

Career statistics



Real Madrid

National team


* 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


External links

1992-93 Napoli Serie A 2 0 1 0 3 0
1993-94 27 0 2 0 29 0
1994-95 29 1 4 0 3 0 36 1
1995-96 Parma Serie A 29 1 1 0 6 0 36 1
1996-97 27 0 1 0 2 0 30 0
1997-98 31 0 6 0 7 0 44 0
1998-99 30 1 7 0 8 0 45 1
1999-00 31 2 3 0 9 1 43 3
2000-01 33 0 7 0 6 0 46 0
2001-02 31 1 5 0 9 0 45 1
2002-03 Internazionale Serie A 28 0 0 0 12 1 40 1
2003-04 22 2 3 0 9 0 34 2
2004-05 Juventus Serie A 38 2 0 0 9 1 47 3
2005-06 36 4 2 0 9 0 48 4

2006-07 Real Madrid La Liga 32 0 1 0 6 0 39 0
2007-08 33 0 1 0 6 0 40 0
2008-09 29 0 1 0 7 0 37 0

2009-10 Juventus Serie A 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 0

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