Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro has backed Barcelona’s Xavi to lift the 2011 Golden Ball.
Barca teammate Lionel Messi is in contention to win the Ballon d’Or for the third year running, but Xavi and Real Madrid sensation Cristiano Ronaldo are also on the three-man shortlist.
“I’d give the Golden Ball to Xavi because it is only right that a Spanish player wins the trophy,” the former central defender noted.
“I have to say that last year’s result was disappointing as both Xavi and Iniesta did better than Messi.”
Cannavaro knows what it takes to lift the prize after he was handed the accolade following Italy’s success at Germany 2006.
Argentine super star Messi is the hot favourite to win the award again following his triumphs in 2009 and 2010.
The 26-year-old Ronaldo of Portugal was voted as Europe’s top player in 2008, while Xavi came second in the 2010 standings.
The FIFA Golden Ball winner will be announced at a ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, on January 9, 2012.
Journalists, national team Coaches and captains are permitted to vote in the annual event.
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition  - £11,000 to be won monthly!