Barcelona's Ronaldinho Wins Golden Ball Award as European Player of the Year

PARIS (AP) - Ronaldinho won the Golden Ball on Monday as European player of the year another honor for the Brazilian following his FIFA player of the year award last year.

Ronaldinho a midfielder who won the Spanish league title with Barcelona and the Confederations Cup with Brazil is the third player from his country to win the Golden Ball following Rivaldo (1999) and Ronaldo (1997 2002).

Ronaldinho finished ahead of Frank Lampard of Chelsea and Steven Gerrard of Liverpool. Andriy Shevchenko of AC Milan last year’s winner placed fifth behind Thierry Henry of Arsenal.

"This is a dream come true Ronaldinho said. "When I see all the names on the list when I see my idols Ronaldo and Rivaldo I realize this is a great honor."

Ronaldinho finished with 225 points followed by Lampard (148) and Gerrard (142). The winner is chosen by France Football magazine’s annual poll of 52 journalists from around the world. This is the 50th anniversary of the award which was first won by England’s Stanley Matthews.

Ronaldinho’s cunning speed power and strength make him one of the most dangerous attacking players. He already has drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona.

"God gives gifts to everyone Ronaldinho said. "Some can write some can dance. He gave me the skill to play football and I am making the most of it."

The 25-year-old player joined Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain in 2003 and has scored 33 league goals in 79 games including nine this season. He also has scored 13 times in 19 Champions League games for Barcelona.

He has played 62 times for Brazil and scored 27 times. He helped the team win its fifth World Cup title in 2002 in Japan.