2002 FIFA World Cup South Korea/Japan
The ball: Fevernova
The winner: Brazil
The runners-up: Germany
The difference maker: Determined to make up for 1998, when Brazil lost in the final while he wasn’t at full fitness, Ronaldo dominated the 2002 tournament. After netting the sole goal in the semifinals showdown with Turkey, he scored twice in the decisive contest against Germany.
The match pitted the two most decorated nations in World Cup™ history against each other, and Ronaldo’s star shined brightest as he displayed the class and mettle that made him Goal.com’s “Player of the Decade.”It was the first and only match to date in the tournament between the two proud, prestigious soccer nations.
The lasting memory: The first World Cup™ to be held in Asia is recalled in the United States for the emergence of 20-year-old Landon Donovan, the Stars and Stripes’ stunning group stage victory against Portugal and run to the quarterfinals, its best finish since 1930.
The Yanks effort was bettered, though, by hosts South Korea. Despite having never won a World Cup™ finals match heading into the summer of 2002, the Red Devils, guided by Dutch manager Guus Hiddink, advanced all the way to the semifinals before losing honorably to Germany through a late Michael Ballack goal. It’s the best finish ever by an Asian team.