The biggest sporting spectacle of the world came to an end this Sunday with Spain taking the honour of being the best team in the world. The ball was set rolling very early when International sports goods maker Nike came up with its Write the Future advertisement with some of the biggest names in world of football. An inquest into the fate of those stars leads us to a pattern of unexpected failures. The world cup surely missed out on some over the top action with the big guns misfiring.
The African player of the year Didier Drogba appears first. The Chelsea striker had been in tremendous goal scoring form last season, notching up 29 goals for the League winning side. He took his goal scoring form to CÃ´te d’Ivoire too, with his impressive displays in the World Cup qualifiers and the African Cup of Nations. Touted as the best player in Africa, Drogba was expected to light up the tournament which was being held for the first time in Africa. Sadly, he suffered an elbow injury just before the tournament and though he bravely played for the Ivory Coast with a cast arm, his agony was compounded with Ivory Coast being in the group of death. Like other African teams, Ivory Coast bowed out early with Drogba unable to live up to the billing.
The Italian Captain Fabio Cannavaro comes up next. The best defender and the winning captain of the last edition in Germany cut a sorry figure as the Azzurris went out in the first round with some insipid display of football. The usual tenacious defending of the Italians was missing, and it was all the more to be seen in some of the defensive goof ups of the Italian centre-backs. Cannavaro’s best days are past him and the world cup was a rude reminder.
The English wonder boy Wayne Rooney was next. Rooney was labelled as the icing of the so-called (or hyped) golden generation of players. He had a record breaking season with Manchester United, where he relished the freedom of playing sans Cristiano Ronaldo. It was expected that Rooney would bring the same form in the three lion’s colours too, but disappointingly, he cut a forlorn figure on the park. Often seen frustrated or substituted, Rooney’s first touch eluded him and he could not get involved in the English scheme of things. With England as a whole playing some lame football, Rooney and Co. had to pack their bags early. All his worst nightmares in the advertisements could well turn true and he could have very well gone and watched Roger Federer play in the Wimbledon. Speaking of Roger Federer, he too did not fare well and bowed out in the quarter final itself. The Curse was working.
Next was Franck the mutinous Ribery. With the debacle that the French team was in this year’s World Cup, it would have been surprising if Ribery would have shined amongst his illustrious and mutinous team mates. The more I see of him, the more I tend to think of him as over-hyped or a talent wasted. The jury is out and Ribery has another world cup to redeem himself.
Next was from the clan of the joga bonito posers, Ronaldinho. Unfortunately for him, his coach had already forsaken the joga bonito style of play and so one of the flashiest footballers of our times could not mesmerize us with his skills. Our loss, Nobody’s gain.
And finally, it was arguably the biggest name in world football today, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo came into the tournament on the back of a world record transfer to Real Madrid and 33 goals in the season in 35 matches. A tremendous feat and the world watched to see Ronaldo light up the tournament with his skills, speed and long range shooting. A solitory goal in a 7-0 rout over North Korea was a cruel facade behind the failure of the Armani clad superstar.
The Nike Curse befell on all of these superstars. Not surprising that Spain, a team sponsored by rivals Adidas took home the trophy.
PS: The Link for the Nike Advertisement is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idLG6jh23yE