World Cup heroes and villainsComment on this story
Paris - Like any good drama or pantomime the World Cup threw up its fair share of heroes and villains over the five weeks of competition.
Here AFP selects five in each category though heroism or villainy can be different in the eye of the beholder:
Arjen Robben (NED)
The flying or diving Dutchman enjoys a roving role in the two categories. When on his feet he had a largely outstanding World Cup but when his country needed him most he went into hiding in the semi-final. The 30-year-old forward will always dazzle with some of his trickery, the other side of it - tricking referees - will always infuriate people.
Luis Suarez (URU)
Or 'Chewy Luis and the News' as some have titled him could have been in the heroes column if he continued in the same vein as his startling two goals against England less than a month after undergoing knee surgery. However, his bad habit of being attracted to human flesh returned as Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder attested to. Denied it, then apologised though it appears it stemmed from a request by Barcelona who he subsequently joined.
Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng (GHA)
Heroes four years ago but sent home in disgrace prior to their crucial group game with Portugal in these finals. Muntari, a renowned badboy with previous form, physically attacked a Ghanaian federation official while Boateng verbally abused coach Kwesi Appiah. “If you want to build a team and instil discipline it's always important that you set things right so that it doesn't affect the team in the future,” Appiah said after Portugal beat them 2-1 to send them home.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto (CMR)
His headbutting of his Cameroon team-mate Benjamin Moukandjo towards the end of the 4-0 drubbing by Croatia summed up in the worst possible way the depths to which the once proud 'Indomitable Lions' had plummeted to. Volker Finke described the defender's behaviour as 'disgusting'. The 30-year-old later explained his gesture was borne out of frustration at Moukandjo failing to heed his advice to pass to him both in the first game against Mexico and then the Croatian match. “When I told him again (to pass to me), he replied: 'Get off my back!' I could not accept his reaction. There was so much frustration in that match,” Assou-Ekotto told L'Equipe.
His talent and good looks make him the envy of many but he will forever be a hero in Germany after his stunning volley secured them their fourth World Cup title and first since the two Germany's were unified. The 22-year-old equates being a footballer to a boxer and on Sunday he delivered a notable knockout blow to four-time world footballer of the year Lionel Messi and his Argentinian team-mates.
James Rodriguez (COL)
He made the absence of talismanic Colombian striker Radamel Falcao irrelevant as the angelic-faced 23-year-old scored six goals and set up two goals to boot. Showed great maturity in not losing his cool under intense provocation from the robust tactics adopted by the Brazilians in their quarter-final. The irony was that he ended up being booked for an innocuous foul. Tears at the end but he brought much joy.
Yohan Cabaye (FRA)
Performed well on the pitch for France but his intervention after a couple of French players namely Morgan Schneiderlin and Bacary Sagna said they should win the World Cup after topping their group otherwise it would be a failure earns him special praise. “The fact we showed our quality in the group stage obviously should make us more confident but not arrogant, otherwise we are going to have major problems,” said the 28-year-old displaying the sort of down to earth common sense that would have stood the cursed team of 2010 in good stead.
Guillermo Ochoa (MEX)
Arrived at the finals without a club having left relegated French championship side Ajaccio but he departed having done his future employment prospects the world of good. Mop haired headband wearing surfer look maybe bedazzled some of his opponents but his startling performances in the 0-0 draw with Brazil and in the last 16 game with the Netherlands amongst others will surely see him snapped up soon. “It was incredible (one save he made from Neymar in the Brazil game). Maybe people don't know him very well because he was playing in a little club, but for those who work with him every day, it really wasn't a surprise,” said centre-back Hector Moreno.
Cesare Prandelli (ITA)
He has always set different standards as a man and a coach, stepping down from a top role when his wife became seriously ill - she later died - and penalising his players if they misbehaved off the pitch as well as on it. Thus he didn't hesitate once Italy failed to go through to the second round to accept the blame and resign announcing it in the post match press conference. “I take all responsibility for our failure. It's useless for me to sit here and say I could have done it differently. This is why I'm resigning,” said the 56-year-old.