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Zidane honoured at Gala night

Real Madrid CF's Zinedine Zidane has been selected Most Valuable Player in the UEFA Gala Awards.

Real Madrid CF midfield player Zinedine Zidane has been named Most Valuable Player in the annual UEFA Gala Awards, which took place in the Monte Carlo Sporting Club in Monaco on the eve of the UEFA Super Cup final.

Starry night
Zidane, who scored the stunning goal that sealed Madrid's ninth European Champion Clubs' Cup victory in the UEFA Champions League final against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in May, was presented with his award in the Club's Salle des Etoiles. And, with Zidane's Real Madrid colleagues Roberto Carlos and Raúl González as well as the now FC Bayern München duo of Oliver Kahn and Michael Ballack scooping the other main prizes, the venue was certainly suitably named.

List of greats
Zidane, who will play for Madrid in the Super Cup final against Feyenoord tomorrow night in Monaco, joins an illustrious list of winners of the prestigious award. Ronaldo, David Beckham, Fernando Redondo and Stefan Effenberg have all been selected as Most Valuable Player since the awards were inaugurated in 1998.

Four in a row
Kahn was not honoured at that first Gala, but his selection as Best Goalkeeper for 2002 marks the fourth year in a row he has been chosen as the top shot-stopper. His new Bayern team-mate and German national team colleague Ballack was selected as Best Midfielder in recognition of his stellar displays as Bayer 04 Leverkusen reached the UEFA Champions League final last season.

Raúl treble
However, Madrid's ultimate triumph in the competition saw them carry off the remaining three awards. Brazilian FIFA World Cup winner Roberto Carlos was chosen as Best Defender, Raúl completed a hat-trick of Best Forward accolades, while Vicente del Bosque's achievement in winning the Champions League for the second time in three years was rewarded with the Best Coach award.

Robson tribute
In other awards presented on the night, current Newcastle United FC and former FC Barcelona and England manager Sir Bobby Robson was presented with the special UEFA President's Award, while Leverkusen general manager Rainer Calmund received the UEFA Fair Play award.

Sacrifice rewarded
As well as those well-known figures, the awards also pay tribute to some of the many people who have put a lifetime of endeavour and enthusiasm into the game without the slightest hint of ulterior motives and, in some cases, without seeking to be paid. Thus, the "Magnificent Seven" for this year are: Louis Houdart (France), Viggo B. Larsen (Denmark), Guillaume Patry (Belgium), Hans Riegler (Austria), Dolores 'Lola' Rutes (Spain), Joseph Schembri (Malta) and Tage Söhrman (Sweden). Meanwhile, Gordon Sorfleet, who has campaigned to keep English third division side Bury FC alive, received the Best Supporter accolade.