Diego Forlan collects Golden Ball award

July 12th, 2010

Uruguay striker Diego Forlan was named the winner of the Golden Ball as the best player of the World Cup.
The Atletico Madrid forward, 31, scored five goals and was a major influence as his team unexpectedly reached the semi-finals in South Africa.

German Thomas Mueller, who also scored five, was named by Fifa as the best young player of the tournament.

Mueller, 20, also won the Golden Boot for most goals – his three assists acting as a tie-breaker.

The German thus beat Forlan, Spain’s David Villa and Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands to the coveted prize.

Bayern Munich ace Mueller saw off Mexico’s Giovani Dos Santos and Ghana’s Andre Ayew for the young player prize.

“This is just incredible for a newcomer to the World Cup,” Mueller told his club’s official website.

“It’s an honour of course, but at the end of the day, I’d rather have had the World Cup itself.”

Of his young player award, the 20-year-old added: “It’s a huge honour to be part of a group including the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Michael Owen and the most recent winner, Lukas Podolski.

“For me personally, it’s terrific confirmation of the work I’ve put in over the last year. I’m delighted my great run has continued here, and I’ve really enjoyed it too. The honour will be with me for all time, and it’s a wonderful memento too.”

Forlan finished top of a Fifa shortlist for his award following a vote by international media.

The former Manchester United player polled 23.4% of the vote, narrowly beating Dutch playmaker Sneijder – second with 21.8% – while Villa was third.

“This is award which I won thanks to my team-mates,” wrote Forlan on his Twitter account, a post accompanied by a photograph where the striker is standing with other players.

“It was taken before they threw me in the swimming pool,” he explained.

Uruguay’s performance at the World Cup was the country’s best in 40 years.

Forlan succeeds Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, who was named top player of the 2006 World Cup despite his infamous red card in the final defeat to Italy.

It rounded off a fine year for Forlan, who also won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid last season, with the striker scoring both goals in a 2-1 extra-time victory over Fulham.

“It’s as great as it is unexpected,” Forlan told FIFA.com.

“I never even imagined something like this, nor did I have my sights set on it.

“As I’m a striker, I perhaps could have seen myself chasing the Golden Shoe, and in fact I came close. That would have been more normal. But to go from that to winning the prize for the best player…

“I’m enjoying it and I’m delighted, but I’m very aware that it’s the result of the spectacular tournament the team has had. It’s another reward for this positive period for Uruguayan football.”

Meanwhile, Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas – who twice denied Arjen Robben of the Netherlands with the score at 0-0 in the World Cup final – won the Golden Glove award for being the best keeper at the tournament.

Casillas conceded only two goals in seven matches.

Source: BBC Sport

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