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Ronaldo wins World Player award for third time

December 18, 2002 10:40 IST

Ronaldo claimed another first in his remarkable career on Tuesday when he was named World Player of the Year for the third time, just 24 hours after claiming the European player's award.

The 26-year-old striker, who also won the FIFA award in 1996 and 1997, was top scorer at the 2002 World Cup, hitting eight goals including two in the final as Brazil beat Germany 2-0.

Ronaldo finished ahead of Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and France midfielder Zinedine Zidane in the voting by national team coaches. Zidane had also been hoping to become the first player to win the award three times after his 1998 and 2000 successes.

The delighted Brazilian said: "It's highly satisfying after the years of doubt and injuries. I was worried if I'd even be able to play again, but now it's as good as I'd hoped or dreamed it could be."

Each coach voted for their three players with five points awarded for first place, three for second and one for third.

Ronaldo won with a total of 387 points as 59 of 148 voting national coaches awarded him first place. Oliver Kahn gained 171 points from 16 first-place votes, while Zidane got 148 points with 18 coaches voting him first.

There were four Real Madrid players in the top 10 with Roberto Carlos (fourth, 114 points) and Raul (sixth, 90 points) joining Ronaldo and Zidane.

Michael Ballack, who was suspended for the World Cup final, joined his compatriot Kahn in the top 10 as he finished seventh with 82 points.

Three players from the English premier league were also in the top 10 -- last year's runner-up David Beckham (eighth, 51 points), France striker Thierry Henry (ninth, 38 points) and 2001 European Player of the Year Michael Owen (tenth, 34 points).

Last year's winner Luis Figo, another player who wears the Real Madrid colours, was 13th with 10 points.

Mia Hamm of the United States retained the crown she won last year by winning the women's vote.

Triumphant Comeback

Tuesday's announcement crowns a year of personal and national team success for Ronaldo after a triumphant comeback from four seasons blighted by injury.

The gap-toothed "Phenomenon" re-established himself as one of the most effective strikers in the world by leading Brazil to their fifth World Cup triumph in South Korea and Japan.

His eight goals were the highest total since West Germany's Gerd Mueller scored 10 in 1970.

That triumph was followed by a controversial 47 million euro ($48.50 million) transfer to Real Madrid from Inter Milan, the club that had given him so much support and uncomplainingly paid his wages throughout his injury problems.

After a few weeks spent losing weight and regaining fitness, Ronaldo proved his World Cup exploits had been no fluke with a spectacular Real Madrid debut.

A minute after coming on against Alaves he controlled a high ball on his chest and swept it in, and within 15 minutes he had added a second.

In December, he returned to Yokohama to score the opening goal in Real's World Club Cup victory over Paraguay's Olimpia, his first title with his new club.

Due to injury, he has played just 17 club games this year compared with 13 for Brazil and has scored more goals -- 11 -- for his country than his clubs.

Ronaldo has won a total of five awards this month.

His FIFA award for being the world's best player comes the day after France Football handed him the Golden Ball prize for the European Player of the Year for the second time.

He was also voted the BBC's Overseas Sports Personality of the Year and won Player of the Year awards from French football magazine Onze and World Soccer magazine.

It is the fourth time in the past six years that the same player has won the European and world awards, including Ronaldo himself in 1997.

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