Award rounds off Romario's perfect year

The Brazilian striker, Romario, has been chosen as FIFA World Player of the Year by the national coaches of FIFA's member associations with a total of 346 points. Hristo Stoichkov came second with 100 points in the vote organised by the association of European Sports Magazines (ESM) and adidas. Roberto Baggio, voted World Player in 1993, came third with 80 points.

Following on from Lothar Matthtaus, Marco Van Basten and Baggio, Romario is now the fourth player whose outstanding performance has been rewarded with this title. Paolo Maldini, the highest-ranked defender, landed fifth, while his teammate, Franco Baresi, came ninth. The two finalists at USA 1994 were heavily represented at the top of the ranking, with four Brazilians (Romario, Dunga, Bebeto and Mauro Silva) and three Italians (Baggio , Maldini and Bares!) among the top 12.

Romario can look back on an illustrious year. With five goals to his name, it was largely thanks to him that Brazil collected the world title in the US. The diminutive Brazilian, who weaves his way around the field with such agility, has proved himself to be one of the game's finest penalty box predators.

Romario's current standing is clearly reflected in the outcome of the vote. His lead of 246 points on his former team-mate and familiar runner-up, Stoichkov - who also came second in 1992 - speaks for itself. This is the first time a FIFA World Player has claimed the award with such a resounding winning margin.

The figures in this year's vote prove that the-choice of FIFA World Player of the Year has formed a firm niche in the football world. Eighty-three national coaches (beating last year’s figure of 71) recorded votes for a total of only 43 players (in 1993 they were spread over 62 players).

The award was presented at a gala evening organised by the Portuguese sports newspaper A Bola! to coincide with its 50th anniversary. In 1995, the award will be handed out in Milan to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Italian sports- newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.