Everything you need to know about the shebang in South Africa
Now the curtain has come down on the 2010 World Cup, we thought it would be nice to share our abiding memories of the tournament with you...
Gary Parkinson - Editor, FourFourTwo.com
Best game I'd love to say Slovakia v Italy, but I didn't see it: I was covering Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand. Of the 50-odd games I did see, perhaps the best story was the oddly enjoyable Germany-England match. History in the making, it was statistically quite an even game, packed with drama – That 'Goal', England's plucky semi-fightback, Germany's skilful assassination – and tactical intrigue. I took no pleasure from England's defeat, but I took plenty from Germany's performance.
Best goal The magnificence of its pointlessness only improves Quagliarella's chip as Italy crashed out. Sublime in thought and execution, especially as his team-mates had just let loose the chains on All Hell.
Best moment Iker Casillas's tears as Iniesta & Co. celebrated the World Cup-winning goal. Having led from the back by almost single-handedly keeping four clean sheets in the knockout stages, the captain richly deserves the honours bestowed upon him.
Funniest moment Tempting to go for Rob Green's fumble – oh come on, it was hilarious - or Yakubu's miss. Or John Terry hurling himself in front of Slovenia's late shots like an Essex-sent missile. Or Heskey lumbering on to conquer the Germans. But that would be to ignore the comedic tour de force that was the French squad's refusal to train and Domenech's impromptu recital of a handwritten ransom note from his own players. Highlight: that coach's Fawltyesque throwing away of his FIFA accreditation as he stormed from the deserted field.
Biggest surprise Capello's v-sign to the media in playing a 4-4-2 (actually more like a 4-2-3-1 but let's not carp) against Slovenia. "Our sources have told us it'll be a diamond," said the crisp salesman. "I've told you, as your manager: You're playing on the left wing, son," said Capello to his captain.
Biggest disappointment Spain. Such abundance of talent and domination of possession should yield far more than four successive 1-0 wins in the knockouts. It worked for them, but it didn't do anything for me. This was a laboured World Cup win on a par with France in 1998, and although that side had Stephane Guivarc'h instead of David Villa, the new Barcelona man's five goals all came in matches where he'd started playing off the plainly unfit Torres - illustrating the great paradox at the heart of the clamour for 4-2-3-1: you need a superb, on-form line-leader, or you're going to struggle. Few in Spain might agree today, but a few in England need to bear it in mind while naming their No.9.
Player of the tournament It's much harder to argue with FIFA's choice of Diego Forlan than it is to argue with wazzocks who haven't seen him since his spell at Old Trafford. Some of those wazzocks hold down highly-paid jobs as alleged experts. They need to lose those jobs.
Young player of the tournament Again, FIFA made the right call in ennobling Thomas Müller. Fast, accurate, savvy and adaptable, he epitomises the future of forward play.
Lesson I’ve learned It's possible to get by without much sleep, as long as you have the support of a good family, both at home and at work.
Hugh Sleight - Editor in Chief, FourFourTwo
Best game Germany 4 England 1. Goals, drama, controversy, brilliance - it was a game with everything. Worth 12 hours in a coach to and from Joburg to see it. We'll still be talking about it in 40 years time when Sepp Blatter Jr again refuses to introduce goal-line technology.
Best goal Technically, Luis Suarez's curler was the best, but my favourite has to be the Shearer-at-Blackburn-esque effort from Asamoah Gyan against the US. Defenders bouncing off him like it was a cartoon, followed by an old-fashioned larrup.
Best moment Tshabala's opening game scorcher to assuage doubts that the hosts would get roundly stuffed in every game. And Michael Carrick's very respectable mum suddenly blasting out "I'm England til I die" against Germany.
Funniest moment France's disintegration. They made England's players look like wise old owls. At what point do you decide to sacrifice potentially your only shot at the World Cup because you don't really like that bloke over there because he's slightly younger/posher/less like Patrice Evra than you?
Biggest surprise Germany's football. Even accounting for never writing off the Germans, no one expected such irresistible football. Who knew that Holland were the new Germany and Germany the new Holland?
Biggest disappointment Rooney, Torres, Ronaldo and the other stuttering stars.
Player of the tournament Xavi. Throughout the tournament, all the talk was that Spain hadn't really played well. Jesus. If only England could not play well as well as that! At the heart of this truly great team are the smart feet and sharp brain of Xavi.
Young player of the tournament Vladimir Weiss looks about 12 but excelled for Slovakia, Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil were both exceptional but I'm going for Gyan again (even though he's 24...). He led the line brilliantly. His great misfortune was that England didn't top their group and give him the chance to double his goal tally against ’JT and Upsy‘.
Lesson I've learned That an awful lot of players win 100 caps these days.
David Hall - Editor, FourFourTwo magazine
Best game Japan vs Paraguay. Just kidding. Ghana vs Uruguay had it all. It was football with heart and soul… and a bit of cheating. It had the lot.
Best goal The first one of the tournament scored by South Africa’s Siphiwe Tshabalala. Had the whole office out of their seats and buzzing about the start of the World Cup.
Best moment Wesley Sneijder running to a TV camera to celebrate his goal against Brazil. A big star with a bit or personality. That’s what we like.
Funniest moment Seeing France’s bizarre World Cup build up (kart racing, road cycling and mountain climbing anyone?) degenerate into a farcical sulk-off between players and management.
Biggest surprise Diego Maradona. Aside from the expected fractious comments aimed at everyone from the Argentine press to Bastian Schweinsteiger, he conducted himself with a level of decorum that I certainly didn’t expect. It was a shame. I thought he’d chin at least one FIFA official.
Biggest disappointment England. I had the dubious pleasure of attending England vs Algeria, the highlight of which was buying a vuvuzela. Yes, it was that bad.
Player of the tournament Wesley Sneijder. Coming off the back of a treble-winning season with Inter, tiredness didn’t appear to be an issue for the Dutchman who pretty much ran the show for Holland. Winter breaks or not, he had a long few months at the office and consistently delivered.
Young player of the tournament Mesut Ozil. We had identified him as one to watch long before the World Cup started and our prediction rang true. Silky skills, great vision and surprising turns of pace made him one of the most complete midfielders at the tournament.
Lesson I’ve learned To never again get excited about England’s chances going into a major tournament. My anticipation and disappointment were significantly heightened by becoming FourFourTwo’s editor in January of a World Cup year. It was a rollercoaster… mainly travelling downwards.
Gregg Davies - News Editor, FourFourTwo.com
Best game Slovakia 3-2 Italy. Fascinating final 15 minutes, in which the holders looked dead, buried and set to bow out with barely a whimper, only to rally out of nowhere and finish a single goal short of qualifying. Super-sub Kamil Kopunek scoring with his first ever touch at a World Cup finals and Fabio Quagliarella’s delightful late chip added to the late drama.
Best goal Okay, so it may not have been everybody's pick for goal of the tournament, but I really enjoyed Nicklas Bendtner’s leveller for Denmark against Cameroon. A simple but brilliant move from the back, featuring two inch-perfect deliveries from Simon Kjaer (diagonal 50-yard effort) and Dennis Rommedahl (pin-point square pass across the penalty area).
Best moment The last-gasp goalline madness between Ghana and Uruguay ending with Luis Suarez’s handball and Asamoah Gyan squandering the chance to rewrite African football history books from 12 yards.
Funniest moment It's difficult for it not to be the French, with a pair of shambolic performances against Mexico and South Africa sandwiching their laughable conduct off the pitch. Some solace for the Republic of Ireland, but not much.
Biggest surprise Brazil hitting the self-destruct button the one time they faced adversity in the tournament. Having cruised through to the quarters, Felipe Melo - sorry, Wesley Sneijder’s equaliser was all it took for the Samba Boys to lose both the plot and their heads.
Biggest disappointment Wayne Rooney, above the plethora of big names who didn’t dazzle. With a season behind him that had filled England fans with so much anticipation, the forward looked like a lost soul in South Africa, one shot against Slovenia that struck an upright aside.
Player of the tournament Without David Villa’s goals Spain wouldn’t have come close to going all the way. But my vote goes to Diego Forlan – carrying his team and his country through to the last four, and one of the few players to truly master the wretched Jabulani ball.
Young player of the tournament Thomas Müller. Two caps and no goals before tournament began. Now five goals in eight appearances, netting his fifth goal of the competition against Uruguay with only his sixth shot on target of the tournament. Badly missed against Spain in the semi-final.
Lesson I’ve learned Bet against Paul the octopus at your peril.
James Maw - Features Editor, FourFourTwo.com
Best game Holland’s quarter-final victory over Brazil had everything - some great football, some atrocious defending and three - count ‘em - THREE moment of madness from Felipe Melo which resulted in Ronaldo advising him via Twitter not to return to Brazil.
Best goal Having lost their opening match to Switzerland, Spain were labouring a tad in the opening stages of their second match against Honduras. That was until David Villa embarked on a powerful run down the Spanish left – cutting inside and beating three men using a combination of power and guile before working the ball onto his right foot and driving it into the top corner.
Best moment Slovakia’s victory over Italy will live long in the memory, and the highlight was undoubtledly Kamil Kopúnek’s 89th minute goal. It was his first ever touch of a football in a World Cup finals and earned his country their first ever finals win. Oh, and it knocked the reigning champions out…
Funniest moment Argentina’s Gabriel Heinze giving a television camera an almighty whack after inadvertently smashing his face into it moments before.
Biggest surprise Fabio Capello’s use of substitutes during the Germany match. The baffled look on the faces of everybody in the packed southwest London watering hole in which I watched the match when England’s biggest goal-threat Jermain Defoe was replaced by Emile Heskey was hilarious, yet telling.
Biggest disappointment The reaction to Luis Suarez’s last minute handball against Ghana (above). I felt the way so many fans and pundits were willing to just accept this blatant act of cheating as ‘part of the game’ and the popular insistence that ‘anybody would do it’ is a damning indictment on the modern game. If the punishment isn’t enough to dissuade the offence then the punishment isn’t severe enough. Bring back hanging, or failing that, just award a goal for blatant and deliberate handball on the goalline.
Player of the tournament Maybe I’m just being contrary, but I felt Bastian Schweinsteiger displayed a consistent level of subtle brilliance as Germany marched to third place. The way he was so willing to sacrifice himself for the team by playing in a more disciplined and withdrawn role than he plays at club level is worthy of high praise (Steven Gerrard take note).
Young player of the tournament I’m not sure you can look beyond Thomas Mueller. For a player of his age and relative inexperience to so quickly become an integral part of such an impressive football machine is not something you see often. His willingness to support both the fullback and centre forward set him apart from most attackers in the tournament.
Lesson I’ve learned That honking a vuvuzela at full blast in a small kitchen in an abandoned office building at gone 10 on a Friday evening will make a noise not dissimilar to those heard in Jurassic Park.
Chris Hunt - Journalist, FourFourTwo.com’s man in South Africa
Best game Germany 4-0 Argentina. Just to see the look on Maradona’s face at the press conference afterwards. He just didn’t see it coming and he still has no idea why it happened.
Best goal For the emotion and for the occasion, it would have to be the first goal of the World Cup. Hammered into the net by Siphiwe Tshabalala, it gave South Africa an unexpected lead over Mexico in the opening game. The crowd went crazy and anyone who was in the stadium at the time won’t forget the experience.
Best moment Frank Lampard’s goal against Germany – well, it was my best moment when he scored it and my worst when the referee continued to play the game without reaching for his whistle.
Funniest moment When Joan Capdevila went down like an extremely heavy saco de patatas, it was Portuguese defender Costa who took the rap, but the TV replays showed a foot of clear air between to the two players, leading fans around the world to believe that it may have been the work of the ‘elbow of god’.
Biggest surprise The form of the Germans from their opening game even surprised the majority of their fans in South Africa, who had been conned into thinking they were crap by Joachim Löw. It’s just a shame this brilliant young team didn’t show up when it really mattered against Spain. It promised to be the game of the tournament but ended up an intriguing game of cat and mouse.
Biggest disappointment The performance of the French, who even managed to give those past masters of infighting, the Dutch, a lesson in how to destroy your team’s chances from the inside.
Player of the tournament A hard call as several players have unexpectedly shone at this World Cup, but I would say Arjen Robben. He may have missed the opening games, but along with Wesley Sneijder he has been a constant danger and the inspiration behind Holland’s charge to the World Cup final.
Young player of the tournament Pivotal in Germany’s run through the tournament, my vote would go to Mesut Ozil.
Lesson I’ve learned That the Dutch have reached the final of the World Cup wearing Nike shirts made from recycled plastic bottles. Apparently it takes eight bottles to make each shirt. Imagine what Johan Cruyff could have done with a shirt made from plastic bottles – although he probably would have demanded one with a different sponsor’s logo on it!
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Some might have bemoned the fact that this tournament failed to live up to expectation and while it may not have produced the thrillers we had hoped it's claer it has provided us with memories to go alongside World Cups past. Roll on 2014... gregtheoharis.wordpress.com/.../the-end
"The baffled look on the faces of everybody in the packed southwest London watering hole in which I watched the match when England’s biggest goal-threat Jermain Defoe was replaced by Emile Heskey was hilarious, yet telling."
-well said Jamesy
All the French squad should be made to walk and swim to Ireland and apologise to every individual for the disrespect they showed the competition after their comic qualification!
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