Figo gets top European award

 

Portugal midfielder Luis Figo, the world's most expensive player, was named European Footballer of the Year yesterday.

Figo, who moved from Barcelona to Real Madrid for $53 million in July after Portugal were knocked out in the Euro 2000 semi-finals, was awarded the "Golden Ball" in a poll of soccer journalists organised by French weekly France Football.

Juventus midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who won the award in 1998 and was named World Footballer of the Year last week ahead of Figo, finished second with AC Milan's Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko third.

Another Frenchman, Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, was fourth. Figo received 197 points and Zidane 181. Shevchenko, top scorer last season in Serie A, was a distant third on 85 points.

Last year's Golden Ball winner, Barcelona's Brazilian forward Rivaldo, was fifth. Figo was also named "player of the year" by the World Soccer magazine.

Meanwhile, 11 clubs from five of Europe's smaller nations are to keep alive the prospect of a breakaway "Euroleague". The 11 clubs, including Celtic and Rangers, said yesterday that they were very disappointed European soccer's governing body, UEFA, had failed to recognise the urgency of the situation.

"As long as no realistic alternative scenarios are proposed, the EuroLeague concept will be - among others - the subject of the ongoing investigations of the clubs involved," they said.

The clubs are also concerned that clubs from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have dominated the Champions League and UEFA Cup, and are monopolising revenues from the tournaments and from TV.

Previous Winners

1956 - Sir Stanley Matthews; 1957 - Alfredo Di Stefano; 1958 - Raymond Kopa; 1959 - Alfredo Di Stefano; 1960 - Luis Suarez; 1961 - Omar Sivori; 1962 - Josef Masopust; 1963 - Lev Yashin; 1964 - Denis Law; 1965 - Eusebio; 1966 - Bobby Charlton; 1967 - Florian Albert; 1968 - George Best; 1969 - Gianni Rivera; 1970 - Gerd Muller; 1971]- Johan Cruyff; 1972 - Franz Beckenbauer; 1973 - Johan Cruyff; 1974 - Johan Cruyff; 1975 - Oleg Blochin; 1976 - Franz Beckenbauer; 1977 - Allan Simonsen; 1978 - Kevin Keegan; 1979 - Kevin Keegan; 1980 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge; 1981 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge; 1982 - Paolo Rossi; 1983 - Michel Platini; 1984 - Michel Platini; 1985 - Michel Platini; 1986 - Igor Belanov; 1987 - Ruud Gullit; 1988 - Marco van Basten; 1989 - Marco van Basten; 1990 - Lothar Matthaeus; 1991 - Jean-Pierre Papin; 1992 - Marco van Basten; 1993 - Roberto Baggio; 1994 - Hristo Stoichkov; 1995 - George Weah; 1996 - Matthias Sammer; 1997 - Ronaldo; 1998 - Zinedine Zidane; 1999 - Rivaldo; 2000 - Luis Figo.