Van Basten pips Stoichkov and Hassler

The name of the FIFA World Player of the Year 1992 is Marco Van Basten. The 28-year-old AC Milan and Netherlands striker was presented with the Golden Football prize at a gala event in Estoril near Lisbon. He succeeds Lothar Matthaus, who picked up the inaugural award last season.

National coaches from seventy-one countries took part in the election, which was conducted by FIFA, the European Sports Magazine Association (ESM) and adidas. Runners-up to Van Basten (with 161 points) were the Bulgarian Hristo Stoichkov from Barcelona (with 88 points) in second place and Germany's Footballer of the Year, Thomas Hassler, from AS Roma. Berti Vogts presented Hassler with the trophy in Estoril Casino during the ceremony organised by the sports magazine A Bola and the Portuguese television channel, RTP.

Van Basten 's teammate at AC Milan, the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Papin, came fourth, with Brian Laudrup joint-fifth with his fellow Dane, Manchester United's Peter Schmeichel.

"I feel very honoured that I've been chosen as the best player for 1992 by national coaches with so much football knowhow", said Van Basten.

The FIFA General Secretary, Joseph S. Blatter, paid tribute to Van Basten by describing him as "the most elegant, creative and spectacular player". The Dutchman is the most successful foreign goalscorer currently playing in Italy. In spite of problems with injuries in the 1987/88 season and again now, he has already notched up 89 goals in Serie A.

Van Basten has been voted European Footballer of the Year no fewer than three times – an honour already accorded only to Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini. The awards ceremony for the FIFA World Player of the Year for 1993 will be held during the group draw for the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™ in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.