It all started back on June 11th in a blaze of Nike metallic purple and orange glory when South Africa taking the field versus Mexico. Every player seemed to be wearing a pair of the Nike Elite range, and both goals were scored by players in the Elites. It set the tone for Nike who made a bold move in releasing each boot in the same color. It all culminated on July 11th when Spain and Holland battled in out for the coveted title of World Cup champions, only in this game it was more about the Adidas Sea of Yellow than Nike. In the end, Spain were crowned deserved champions, even if it was a pretty boring final! I thought it would be worth recapping things in a different fashion to what you might be used to.
Player Of The Tournament
There were many top performers that easily could have won this one. David Villa was exceptional, as was fellow finalist Wesley Sneijder. But the best player had to be Diego Forlan, who led Uruguay all the way to an extremely impressive 4th place. His work rate was amazing, he ran all over the field and his goals came at times when Uruguay really needed them. Forlan led Atletico Madrid to the Europa cup championship this past season, scoring two goals while debuting the Adidas Adizero in the final.
Goes to 20-year old German striker Thomas Muller. Not only did Muller win the young player of the tournament but he also won the Golden boot with 5 goals while wearing the Adidas Adizero.
The Dreaded Curse
Nike went into the tournament with some of the best players in the world wearing their boots. Yet those players never showed up to play! Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres were just a few of the players that never got it going. But there were also some players that made things happen in Nike, Landon Donovan for example being one, as he led the US team through a tricky group while wearing the CTR360 Maestri.
The veteran Giovanni Van Bronckhorsts scored an absolute rocket for Holland against Uruguay and it gets my vote. One can only wonder how it is only his 6th international goal. And although it will be his last for his country, Van Bronckhorst can go out knowing he scored one of the best goals ever seen on the biggest stage. He was also wearing the Nike T90 Laser III.
Miss of the tournament
This is an easy one! If you haven’t seen the miss by Nigeria’s Yakubu Aiyegbeni you should go check it out. Yakubu wears Nike CTR360’s.
Biggest Talking Point
This one is split between the Vuvuzela and the Jabulani. The Jabulani got very negative reviews for its unpredictable nature, as I pointed out well before the World Cup even started. In hindsight, it could be the main reason that so many shots went off target! Vuvuzelas received extreme coverage throughout the tournament. The buzzing noise was the pain of every living room while watching games. South Africa asked the world to embrace the culture of the people by accepting the Vuvuzela and in the end, I think we did (but I don’t want to hear them ever again!)
Stand-Out Upcoming Star
This one goes to Keisuke Honda and his Mizuno Wave Ignitus. Honda found a way to make the Mukaiten panel really work, and Mizuno got some great publicity because of it! Will we see them in the US some time soon?
Who were the winners?
If you ask me – Adidas! Diego Forlan, Thomas Muller, Luis Suarez and David Villa were just some of the players sporting the new Adidas Adizeros. Players in the lightest cleat available at the time of release, scored 30 goals, nearly double what the second placed T90 Laser III scored. Nike did have a huge presence and their color choice was genius but when the big stars don’t perform it just doesn’t bode well for the actual boots. Puma also got some coverage through the African players, and of course with goalkeepers wearing the PowerCats more than any other boots!
Stats of the World Cup
Goals per game: 2.2
Shots per goal: 12.5
Yellow cards: 245
Red cards: 17
I also have to give a huge shout-out to Nike for putting us up VIP style at the Nike Montalban theater for the Final on Sunday. A great day was had with theFinalThird team (check out the pics on their site), and I even got a free South Korea shorts out of the day! We now move on from what was a fantastic World Cup hosted in the best fashion by South Africa. The good news, next up is the European championships in 2012, and that means another opportunity for my Irish boys to qualify for a big tournament! Come on Ireland!!