Vol. 5 Num 558 Wed. December 21, 2005  

It's Ronaldinho again

Brazil and Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho picked up his second successive World Player of the Year award from soccer's governing body FIFA on Monday.

He is the third Brazilian to win the world and European player awards in the same year after Ronaldo in 1997 and 2002, and Rivaldo in 1999.

Ronaldinho picked up 956 points to comfortably beat Chelsea's England midfielder Frank Lampard (306) in the FIFA vote by national coaches and captains around the world.

The Brazilian's Barcelona team mate Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon finished in third place with 190 points.

"I would like to say thank you to all my team mates and national team because without them all I would not be here," Ronaldinho told the FIFA Gala, hosted at the lakeside opera house in snowy Zurich.

"I hope I can make people happy with what I do and I hope to be here again in a year's time," he said, before being whisked back to Barcelona.

The 25-year-old Ronaldinho also won the inaugural FIFPro World Player of the Year award, selected by his fellow players, in September.

Ronaldinho enjoyed a hugely successful year, helping Barcelona win the Primera Liga title and featuring in Brazil's Confederations Cup triumph in Germany.

"He will undoubtedly be one of the star turns at next year's World Cup in Germany," FIFA said in a statement.

Runner-up Lampard was magnanimous in defeat.

"I am not disappointed," he told reporters, calling his Brazilian opponent a deserved winner.

"For me he is the most exciting player and the player I enjoy watching the most in the world."

The poll was based on the verdict of 159 international coaches and captains. Five points were awarded for a first place nomination, three for second and one for third.

Germany's Birgit Prinz beat off competition from Brazilian player Marta and U.S. challenger Shannon Boxx to win the women's crown for the third successive year.

The President's Award went to Sweden's former international referee Anders Frisk.

Frisk retired from the sport in March when he received death threats after officiating in Barcelona's controversial 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the Champions League in February.

THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS: FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho (L) delivers his speech after receiving his trophy at a gala in Zurich on Monday. On the right is his female counterpart, Germany's Birgit Prinz.. PHOTO: AFP