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Podolski - best young player of WC

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india Updated: Jul 08, 2006 18:19 IST

Germany's Lukas Podolski was named by FIFA on Friday as the best young player of the World Cup.

The 21-year-old Polish-born striker was chosen ahead of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, who was blamed by England players for encouraging the referee to send off Wayne Rooney in England's quarterfinal defeat.

Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann selected Podolski as part of a drive to field a new young team at the World Cup.

He scored three goals, playing a key role in helping the host nation to reach the semi-final where they were beaten by Italy.

"It is a great motivation to go on playing and become more successful," Podolski said after receiving the award at a press conference.

"I would have liked to take home another trophy (the World Cup) but this is a great honour for me."

Holger Osieck, who heads the FIFA Technical Study Group, dismissed English journalists' assertions that Ronaldo was a "cheat" and therefore did not meet the fair play criteria for the award.

"I would not agree. That is a harsh formulation," Osieck said in reference to accusations that Ronaldo had urged referee Horacio Elizondo to dismiss England striker Rooney off after he had stamped on Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho.

Podolski won because of the efficiency of his play, his skills and the fun he brought to the game, Osieck said.

"He not only scored three goals, he was a key element in Germany's attack."

"He showed a great understanding with Miroslav Klose and the two players formed a very effective partnership. Together, they netted eight of Germany's 11 goals," he added.

Podolski played with FC Cologne last year but after they were relegated to the second division he joined champions Bayern Munich.

He has now scored 15 goals from 31 appearances with the national team.

Just fewer than one million fans voting through the official World Cup Internet site - Ronaldo, Luis Valencia of Ecuador and Lionel Messi of Argentina, chose three players from the shortlist for the award.

The Technical Study group selected Podolski, Tranquillo Barnetta of Switzerland and Spain's Cesc Fabregas.

The patron of the award, Lothar Matthaus, Germany's most capped player who is now coaching Salzburg in the Austrian league, said Podolski had a bright future.

"He fulfilled all the criteria. He brought fun to his football."

Matthaus said it was a pity that Messi had not had the chance to play against Germany in the quarterfinal - Argentina coach Jose Pekerman kept the 19-year-old Barcelona starlet on the bench as Argentina lost on penalties.

The award was open to all players born after January 1 1985. A total of 40 players from the 32 qualified teams were eligible.