PARIS, France -- Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved of Juventus has won the Golden Ball as the European Footballer of the Year.
Nedved earned 190 points, with Arsenal's Thierry Henry of France second on 128 points and AC Milan's Paolo Maldini on 123 points.
The 31-year-old was rewarded after a series of outstanding performances for Juventus as they retained the Italian League title and reached the Champions League final in May.
He missed the final through suspension after being booked in the semi-final, when his spectacular display was a major factor in the defeat of favourites Real Madrid.
The award is decided after a poll of European journalists from 52 countries, published by France Football magazine
Nedved, who was also voted best player of the year by the magazine World Soccer, is the second Czech to win the prestigious Golden Ball after Josef Masopust claimed the prize in 1962.
Ukraine's AC Milan striker Andrei Shevchenko was fourth on 67 points with FIFA's player of the year Zinedine Zidane of France fifth on 64 points.
"I did not even dream of winning such an award. I'm very happy to receive such an important, such an extraordinary honour," Nedved said.
"I heard about the nominees and being among them, but I did not believe in my chances too much. A lot of players had good results like Paolo Maldini, Raul, Zidane. All of them deserved to win," he added.