2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
The ball: Jabulani
The winner: Spain
The runners-up: Netherlands
The difference maker: Though his team lost in the semifinals, Uruguay’s Diego Forlan was in sensational form in the South African summer, inspiring La Celeste to its deep run. His five goals made him joint top scorer for the tournament, and his three long-range successful strikes from outside the penalty area were simply stunning.
His venomous volley, pounded into the ground and caroming into the back of the net, gave Uruguay a lead in the third-place playoff with Germany. He nearly found the equalizer with his final act of the tournament, a free kick that struck the crossbar in stoppage time.
The lasting memory: The first World Cup™ held in Africa was a rousing success with the host country embracing the tournament pridefully, the enthusiasm extending to the field and spurring players on to produce enthralling performances. Employing manager Vicente Del Bosque’s intricate, short passing, one-touch system perfected by the Spanish soccer savants, La Furia Roja followed its 2008 UEFA Euro crown up with its first World Cup™ trophy with 1-0 victories in every knockout round match, beating Portugal, Paraguay, Germany and Holland to prevail.
Spain also became the first team to win the competition for the first time outside of its home country since Brazil won in Sweden in 1958.
The final was a gritty affair with the Dutch attempting to beat the Spaniards through brute force. All told 14 yellow cards were given, a final record. Spain’s triumph marked the first time a team from Europe won a World Cup™ outside of its home continent and the 10th title for Europe, surpassing the nine of South American sides.