The month-long festival of sporting excellence ended on the July 9th in Germany with Italy holding up the World Cup Trophy for the fourth time. The World Cup is a football feast and the performances of ten key figures have decided success and failure.
Zinedine Zidane (France)
The hero of the 1998 World Cup, World Player of the Year, famous midfielder and key figure in the French soccer team, Zidane has won almost all the titles. He played badly in the first round and France only just managed to qualify for the next round. However, he improved steadily in the knockout stage, leading France to a 1-0 victory over Brazil, to become the dark horse of this year's World Cup. However the 34-year-old ruined it all when he was sent off in the final. The French finally lost to the Italians in a penalty shootout. A head-butt has brought the career of a football sensation to an infamous end.
Comment: Zizou is not immortal.
Marco Materazzi (Italy)
The Italian left-back deserves the reputation he enjoys. He is an eye-catching figure. He was instrumental in helping Italy score both their goals in the final. More dramatically, he was provoked sober Zidane into headbutting him, which undoubtedly hurt France's chance at winning the World Cup.
Comment: He will either win immortal fame, or go down in history as a byword for infamy
Fabio Grosso (Italy)
The Italian defender reversed the course of events at a crucial moment. He created the penalty shootout opportunity when Italy played against Australia, and scored the first goals against the host country, Germany. He also scored the last goal of the 2006 World Cup.
Comment: Great Italian defender!
Jose Pekerman (Argentina)
Before the match most people expected Argentina to win. However, the Argentinean Head Coach lost his mind at the crucial moment during the quarterfinal match against Germany. Improper substitution of players ruined Argentina's dream of lifting the World Cup trophy, and caused numerous football fans to sigh and wring their hands.
Comment: Incompetent coach orchestrated his team's defeat.
Miroslav Klose (Germany)
The 28-year-old forward is a key figure in the German national team and the team's game strategy was based around him. Although top-heavy and unsteady four years ago, he has become an excellent forward who can terrify and full back. It was Klose who helped take Germany to the World Cup semi-finals, though he didn't play his best at the knockout stage of the tournament. He was also targeted by rival teams, forcing his teammates to attack.
Comment: Klose, the one that makes difference
Thierry Henry (France)
The maturing French centre forward was once a great scorer in the English Premier League. He now proves his worth by providing goals at crucial moments. He helped France eliminate Brazil and Portugal.
Comment: A real killer
Compared with Petr Cech and Jens Lehmann, this Portuguese player did not perform well. However, he shattered England's dream by eliminating them 3-1 at the quarterfinals, ending England's eight-year winning streak.
Comment: There is no such title as the world's best goalkeeper, but he is a fantastic goalkeeper who prevents his team from being damaged by penalty kicks.
Patrick Vieira (France)
The 30-year-old French midfielder gave an excellent performance at this years' World Cup, and he is the key figure in the change from attack to defense in the French team. In the first round, France repeatedly drew its games. At the crucial moment, Vieira's coordination and kicking skills helped France beat Togo 2-0.
Comment: An experienced player saves the country from being eliminated.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)
Nicknamed by his fans "little pig", Schweinsteiger has brought good luck to the German team. By leading German team attack from the side, he played an important role during the matches. During the match for the third place, he has staged a unique "hat trick" and helped Germany beat Portugal 3-1.
Comment: All that glitters is not gold.
Brazilian football stars
These are the faces that football fans across the world are familiar with: Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho, Adriano and Kaka. The five stars on front of their chests proclaim their glorious past, however their six World Cup winning streak has become their spiritual shackle. Although these soccer stars have become the main forces in various big European clubs, they have lost harmony and style. The fact that Brazil was finally eliminated reflects a change of history.
Comment: They are the superstars of the top European clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan but they couldn't help their home team
By People's Daily Online