Matthew Monk is a school teacher
from the UK who has the World Cup as one of his greatest passions. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
Read earlier columns
And so O Penta goes to Brasil. Thirty-two years after
Carlos Alberto last scored a goal from open play in
the World Cup Final Ronaldo reiterated his claim to be
the best player in the world, and won the World Cup.
Just dwell on these words for a second: to win the
World Cup. What must it feel like to have achieved
that? What could possibly beat that? Ronaldo
deservedly joins the ultimate pantheon of football,
housing Castro, Schiavio, Piola, Ghiggia, Rahn, Pelé,
Vava, Hurst, Carlos Alberto, Müller, Kempes and
Bertoni, Tardelli and Altobelli, Burruchaga, Brehme,
Dunga, Zidane and Petit. These are the luckiest men
on Earth, the giants, our heroes. The men who
actually won the World Cup.
Did Brasil deserve to win, were they good champions?
Of course they were. I have possibly been Brasil's
biggest critic during the last 30 days, and there is
no point me now pretending I wanted the team in Yellow
and Green to win. But even my heart melted when I saw
Ronaldo's face at the end of the game. It was good
for football that Brasil won. I would have preferred
Germany of course, but I had a smile on my face all
the same when Cafu stepped up to claim the greatest
prize in the world.
Even the cynics like me who hate the media's obsession
with whoever plays for Brasil, who cannot understand
why every Brazilian team is held up to be just as good
as 1970 or 1982, and who hate the way Nike have turned
them into a corporate plaything, have to celebrate
this win. Brasil had to play the game on anything but
their own terms, and relied as much on their
goalkeeper as they did on two of the vaunted
three-R's, but they were the better team.
We must not forget that Germany competed with Brasil
for 70 minutes, and that but for two or three pieces
of bad luck they could be World Champions now, but
luck will only take you so far - skill wins
championships, and Germany just did not have enough on
It was a game of goalkeeping - fabulous saves, and
glaring errors - and that in itself is a surprise for
a game involving Brasil. Say what you like about
Marcos, but he did more to win this game - and the
newly renamed Jules Rimet Trophy - for Brasil than
anyone except Ronaldo. His amazing fingertip save
from Neuville's free kick in the second half changed
the course of the final.
Up to that point Germany were comfortably ahead on
points. Sure, Ronaldo had had three clear-cut
chances, but Khan had been more than enough to match
him. It was Germany who looked like scoring, not
Brasil. Schneider, Frings, Metzelder and Bode were
dominating the wings, not Cafu and Roberto Carlos.
Hamann and Jeremies had the midfield under relaxed
control - Lucio, Edmilson and Roque Junior looked
anything but comfortable in defence. There looked to
be another shock on the cards, a German win.
But Germany just could not score. For all their
pressure and possession in the first half, only
Jeremies speculative shot had even threatened a goal.
Now at the start of the second half the possession
seemed to be being used more profitably. Jeremies had
another, even greater chance. This time it was a
sharp header that had Marcos beaten. Luckily for
Brasil, Edmilson was there to stick out a leg and
deflect the ball away. Germany were coming closer,
Brasil looked tired. Edmilson pawed at his leg,
nagged by an injury. Rivaldo complained to Collina at
every opportunity. The body language displayed by the
Brazilians was anything but that of expectant
champions. Then came the big chance.
Edmilson fouled Schneider 35 metres from the Brazilian
goal. It was a needless, lunging tackle that seemed
to sum up how the game was going for the South
Americans. But surely this was too far out? Neuville
stepped up, and once Collina had pushed Rivaldo back
the full ten yards, he unleashed an amazing shot. It
swerved every-which-way around the wall, darting left,
then right, but homing in all the time on the netting
just centimetres inside Marcos' left-hand post. It
was in, and Germany were one goal up - until the
Palmeiras man somehow tipped it onto the post with his
left hand. Nothing would go in, not even this
masterblaster. Then the game changed.
Three incidents disrupted the flow of the game.
First, Kahn damaged his fingers bravely stopping
another Brazilian attack. He would spend the rest of
the match trying to protect his hands, taking his
gloves off several times. Then Edmilson took an age
to change his ripped shirt - the pace and passion of
the game dropped. Finally, Jeremies was badly hurt in
a clash with Cafu. He signalled that he would need to
come off, but with blood on his sock, came back on
after several anxious minutes. Germany had lost their
grip on the game, and also their concentration. What
a time for Ronaldo to pop up.
Kahn made his one and only mistake of the tournament -
a simple, handling error that 999 out of 1000 he would
have gathered. In rushed Ronaldo, 1:0. And that, was
that. For all Germany's presence and quality, from
the moment Ronaldo scored only one team was going to
win. Völler made his three allotted changes -
bringing on Bierhoff, Asamoah and Ziege - but without
Ballack, and with no-one taking control in midfield
anymore, Brasil could pick Germany off. Ronaldo
scored a second, and but for poor passing by Juninho,
Brasil could have had two more at least. Germany
never gave up, and were desperately unlucky not to
grab a consolation, but there was nothing left to drag
this one out of the fire.
So we had out seventeenth champions: Brasil, now two
wins ahead of everybody else. Four years ago Brasil
were demolished by France - who probably, man for man,
are still the best team in the world - but 2002 was
their year. More importantly after the debacle of the
Stade de France, it was Ronaldo's night, the night he
returned to the summit of football. It has been a
long, hard climb back, but in becoming the first
player to score more than six goals in one tournament
since 1974, he just had to be on the winning team. It
was truly a night of history for him: as well as
helping his country to it's fifth title - and himself
to the Golden Boot - he surpassed Gary Lineker, Jurgen
Klinsmann and Sandor Kocsis to become the third
greatest goalscorer in World Cup history along with
Pelé. Now only Just Fontaine and Gerd Müller stand
above him. At 25 he has two or three tournaments left
in him - providing of course his knees hold out - and
who knows how many goals he will score by the time he
retires. 20 is not an impossible target, as is Pelé's
record three championships - he already has two
After that in fact there was only one thing left - for
FIFA to mess up the presentations, and that they did
with their usual aplomb and panache. Why can FIFA not
design a stand that allows the winning captain to
clearly stand out? Why did Cafu have to risk injury
just to jump up onto a plinth, just so we could see
him? Why don't they build stadiums with presentation
areas anymore? And where was the man who organised
this - the best ever - World Cup: Michel Zen-Ruffinen?
Football is the greatest sport in the world. Nothing
else can compare to the passion, drama or simplicity
of it. Anyone can play it, anywhere. That is why we
love it. And we also love it because of games like
Brasil: Deutschland. I'm happy it ended this way.
See you in four years.
Info on how
the World Cup was founded and about the trophy as well.
on every match in every tournament.
Interesting columns about the past, present and future of the World Cup.
with appearances in the World Cup. Detailed info on every country.
of many of the most influential players in history.
An A-Z collection
of strange and different stories in World Cup history.
A big collection
of various statistics and records.
since it was introduced in 1966.
knowledge about the WC. Three different levels. No prizes, just for fun.
lots of stuff. For instance Best Goals, Best Players and Best Matches.
of links to other soccer sites with World Cup connection.
and buttons for you to link to us if you want.
A little information
on who keeps this site available.