| Tuesday, December 17, 2002 15:57 EST
Brazilian striker wins award for third time in career
MADRID, Spain -- Mia Hamm won FIFA's player of the year
award for the second straight time Tuesday, while Ronaldo was
honored for the third time, capping his comeback from injury.
Hamm, a midfielder for the WUSA's Washington Freedom and the top
scorer in the history of the U.S. national team, beat German
striker Birgit Prinz and Chinese midfielder Sun Wen. Hamm has won
the women's award the only two years it has been awarded.
``It's a tremendous honor, a dream come true,'' she said. ``In
the U.S. we try to sell the game of soccer. To tell people about
this will be marvelous.''
Seventy-seven national team coaches voted, with five points
awarded for first place, three for second, one for third. Hamm had
161 points, Prinz 96, and Sun 58.
Ronaldo, a Real Madrid striker who led Brazil to the World Cup
championship, also won in 1996 and 1997.
On Monday, he won the Golden Ball, awarded to the best player in
German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn of Bayern Munich was second in the
FIFA vote. French midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who also plays for
Real Madrid, was third. He won the award in 1998 and 2000.
Ronaldo made a comeback from an injury to his right knee that
sidelined him for two years. He was the top scorer in the World Cup
with eight goals, helping Brazil to a record fifth trophy.
``After two difficult years, I had my doubts and misgivings,''
he said. ``I sometimes wondered whether I would play again.
Everything has turned out the way I hoped and dreamed it would.''
Ronaldo received 387 points, with 59 coaches choosing him as
their top player. Kahn had 171 points, and Zidane 148.
Last year's FIFA winner, Portugal's Luis Figo, was 13th.
Hamm, who made her international debut as 15-year-old, has
scored 136 goals for the United States. She won an Olympic gold
medal in Atlanta in 1996, followed by a silver medal four years
later in Sydney. She was a member of the U.S. teams that won the
World Cup in 1991 and 1999.