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Friday, June 11, 2010

2006 & All That

A Personal History of the World Cup: Part Eight

So we lurch to the end of my reminscence. I have reviewed all eight of the World Cups which have taken place whilst I have been drawing breath. I finished a mere five hours before the ninth installment kicks off. Life for a football tragic is measured in four year cycles. When I look back over how much has changed, even since Germany 2006, I am astounded.

Germany 2006 was made even more poignant in Wellington by the fantastic work that the Goethe Insitute did in using the World Cup to bring German culture to the forefront. The Wellington Director,Christoph Mucher was a football fan and he worked tirelessly to add value to the Wellingtonian's World Cup exeprience. Among the many initiatives they ran was a Football film festival. I had the privilege of seeing the mesmerising German George Best film, Football Like Never Before, a meditiative study of red on green. The Institute also built a Torwand, a goal wall, which they drove around Wellington, setting up at festivals, parties and parks.

The Goethe Institute's enthusiasm was contagious, and for the first time ever I felt I could follow Germany in a World Cup, such was their positivity, such was their optimism. I felt Deutschland's collective sigh of relief and joy when Phillip Lahm collected the ball on the left hand side in the first game against Costa Rica and fired home a goal that deserved to be the first in a World Cup:

Argentina were another revelation. Their fluid passing, and 'total football' was exemplified by the team goal to end all team goals, a series of 26 passes to bamboozle Serbia.

They also produced my favourite goal of the tournament, a Maxi Rodriguez cracker to knock Mexico out of the cup in the second round:

My favourite game was the third place play-off. As in the 2002 finals this so called dead rubber involved the hosts, and was a competitive and exciting match. Unlike in 2002 the hosts got up to win, Germany beating Portugal 3-2 to take the Bronze.

The final will be remembered for an act of insanity which will unfortunately outlast the result for many people. Yes, Italy won the trophy, beating France on penalties after a 1-1 draw. But the 2006 World Cup final will be remembered as the Headbutt Final:

Zidane was sent off in disgrace. He had already scored from the penalty spot during the game, and no doubt would have stepped up again in the shootout, so you could argue that his brain explosion cost France the Coup De Monde.

There you have it; The World Cup from my own very subjective perspective.

Penalties, tears, broken bones, cracking goals and outrageous tantrums- bring on South Africa 2010!

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