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Fabio Cannavaro

2010-05-13 16:45
Age: 36
Position: Defender
Club: Juventus

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 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.

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