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July 12, 2006   

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Victory for Canna

French defender Lilian Thuram: 6-foot-1 inch
German defender Christoph Metzelder: 6-foot-3 inches
Italian defender Marco Materazzi: 6-foot-5 inches
Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro: 5-foot-9 inches

Among this crowd of soaring defenders one name stands out.

Why, Zidane, Why?

At 5-foot-9, Cannavaro is the midget of the bunch.

A defender calls up the image of huge, hefty giants guarding the centre field.

That Cannavaro is not.

But that has not stopped the 33-year-old Italian football captain from proving through World Cup 2006 that he is probably the finest defender in the world today. This regal and authoritative player, with a special and solid presence on the field, has shown that size matters little.

Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/Getty Images

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