After a long and exciting month the World Cup is now over, with some new faces exploding on the world stage and others exploding off it. We end our coverage of the final stages with a round up of the heroes and villains, the men who made us smile and the men who made us frown, wince, curse or whatever other reaction we may have had. Have a good holiday, and we will see you again soon.
Who else but Ronaldo? Four years ago the young striker left the World cup under a cloud of controversy after being found unconscious in the Brazil changing room an hour before the match. A string of injuries threatened his career, but he returned with a brilliant match winning goal in the semi-final against Turkey and then two great strikes in the final to give Brazil their fifth World cup title.
Two more players joined the group on three goals, the unfortunate Michael Ballack who put Germany in to the final which he had to miss through suspension, and Turkey's Ilhan Mansiz, who combined with Hasan Sukur to put three past South Korea in the third placed playoff. Some say Mansiz should have playing from the start in place of the off form Sukur.
|Ronaldo (Brazil)||8||Bouba Diop (Senegal)||3|
|Klose (Germany)||5||Henri Camara (Senegal)||3|
|Rivaldo (Brazil)||5||Wilmots (Belgium)||3|
|Tomasson (Denmark)||4||Robbie Keane (Ireland)||3|
|Vieri (Italy)||4||Larsson (Sweden)||3|
|Raúl (Spain)||3||Ballack (Germany)||3|
|Morientes (Spain)||3||Mansiz (Turkey)||3|
Oliver Kahn finally proved he is human after several extra-terrestrial performances. He had been touted as a strong candidate for player of the tournament, especially after helping Germany to the final with some great saves and a clean sheet against South Korea. However after keeping out Ronaldo with a spectacular stop in the final, he made probably his first mistake of the tournament, failing to hold on to Rivaldo's long shot to let Ronaldo in to score.
Before the match Kahn had been named the best keeper of the competition, ahead of Turkey's Rustu who also contributed greatly to his team's success in reaching the semi-finals. However in the end it was the Brazilian keeper Marcos who took the winner's medal, keeping clean sheets in the semi-final against Turkey and then in the final against Germany.
There were no red cards in the last four matches as fair play won the day. The only person who missed out in the final was Germany's best outfield player Michael Ballack, who was unfortunate to pick up a yellow card in the semi-final which kept him out of the final. He was one of five players who picked up three yellow cards during the competition, together with Beto (Portugal), Totti (Italy) and Tugay and Emre (Turkey). Beto and Totti were also shown red cards for double bookings, which under house rules makes them the leading villains of the World cup.
After the controversies of the earlier rounds, the semi-final and final games were thankfully quiet. There were no incidents worthy of comment, and the professional Pierluigi Collina had little work in a good tempered final.
The competition ends though under a cloud as far as refereeing goes, and there is now talk of changes to ensure the events of the last few days are not repeated. FIFA may not like it, but technology has to be used to help the officials make their decisions, and the idea of additional referees behind goals or on the pitch could be tried out (that probably wouldn't have helped much though given the standard of some of the arbiters this time around).
A final word for our Spanish referee López Nieto, who set a new tournament record for a single game of sixteen yellow cards and two reds which will take some beating. At least Spain doesn't come away empty handed.