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By ESPN Staff
Dec 17, 2007

Kaka wins men's award; Marta wins women's honor

ZURICH, Switzerland -- Brazil midfielder Kaka completed a virtual sweep of annual awards Monday by winning FIFA's World Player of the Year.

The Milan playmaker received 1,047 points, ahead of with Messi with 504 and Cristiano Ronaldo with 426 in a vote by national team captains and managers. The three were picked as finalists from a list of 30 candidates.

On the women's side, Marta of Brazil captured the award with 988 points, ahead of Birgit Prinz of Germany with 507 and Cristiane of Brazil with 150.

For Kaka, it is the third accolade this year. He also won European soccer's Golden Ball and World Soccer magazine's player of the year award.

"Tonight is a really special night for me," Kaka said after being handed the trophy.

He is the fifth Brazilian to win the title, joining Ronaldo, who has won the trophy three times, Ronaldinho (two), Romario (two) and Rivaldo (one).

"When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a professional player for Sao Paulo and playing one game for the national team," Kaka said.

Before the award ceremony at Zurich's opera house, Kaka owed his success this year to his club. Kaka led Milan to a 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League final last season. On Sunday, he scored one goal and set up two for Filippo Inzaghi as Milan won its record fourth world club title by beating Argentina's Boca Juniors 4-2.

Marta was the top scorer of the 2007 Women's World Cup in China, with seven goals. The 21-year-old led Brazil to the finals, where it was beaten 2-0 by Germany.

"I'm very happy to be here once more, and you can be sure I am going to give my best to be here on other occasions," said Marta, who won the award last year after three consecutive wins by Prinz.

Pele won the President's Award. The Fair Play prize went to FC Barcelona for donating space on its jersey to advertise the U.N. children's fund UNICEF.

Messi, who tore a thigh muscle over the weekend when Barcelona beat Valencia 3-0, memorably showed his skills when he scored against Getafe in April after picking up the ball in his own half and going past four opposition players before sliding the ball past the goalkeeper.

The feat drew comparisons with Diego Maradona's second goal in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal match against England, voted the best the greatest goal in FIFA World Cup history in 2002.

Asked about being compared with the Argentine legend, Messi said, "I just want to ... become a better player and hope to win a couple of titles with a good team, and that's about it."

Ronaldo would have been the first winner from an English club. The Manchester United player is currently tied at the top of the Premier League's scoring list (nine goals) with Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor and Everton's Ayegbeni Yakubu.

The 22-year-old Portuguese was Manchester United's top scorer last season, helping the club win its first Premier League title in four years.