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Football embraces a brave new world

sports Updated: Jul 13, 2010 23:24 IST
Lothar Matthaus

In coming to Africa, this World Cup brought about some fundamental changes to the established order of things. The continent of Africa has been deservedly and belatedly embraced by the global football family, Spain were new and worthy champions and thirdly, the divide between the established nations and the emerging ones has all but disappeared.

African teams’ technique and tactical awareness has become much greater. This time Ghana came close, but it’s really just a matter of time before an African nation wins the prize.

Asian countries use their fitness, team-work and technique in a fast-flowing one-touch style that is a joy to watch. The Americans continue to improve, as do Australia and New Zealand.

In contrast the big European nations, failed to justify their reputations. England never performed, France imploded and Italy fell to pieces. Even Brazil and Argentina were eclipsed by their tiny neighbour, Uruguay.

As a German I take much encouragement from South Africa 2010. Ozil and Muller have emerged as young players of exceptional ability, and the team now plays with a style that is effective and exciting to watch. After Lampard’s ‘goal’ for England, the ghost of 1966 can also now be formally put to rest. Against Spain I felt if we had been a little more ambitious we might have won, but they deserved it. They claimed their crown without ever reaching their best – this ability to win when not playing well is a characteristic of all great teams.

I was touched by the sportsmanship of the Dutch players who lined up to form a guard of honour and applaud the Spanish team as they made their way back on to the pitch with the World Cup. The despair and pain etched on the player’s faces was there for whole world to see, but still they found the strength to acknowledge the victors.

South Africa 2010 was a landmark in so many ways, a true celebration of the beautiful game, and it will be interesting to see how football develops and changes over the next four years. I thoroughly enjoyed my stint as a commentator and to be part of this edition was a great experience.

Professional Management Group