Ranked! The 10 best players of World Cup 2010
Ah, 2010. Who could forget the drone of the vuvuzelas, the “goal for all of Africa,” and ITV cutting to a Hyundai advert during England’s best moment of the tournament.
While it wasn’t a great tournament for Three Lions fans (particularly anyone who sat through England 0-0 Algeria, comfortably the worst game in living memory), some players did enjoy it. BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!
10. Asamoah Gyan
The Black Stars were the breakout stars of the tournament – quick on the break, and quite brilliant to watch. Gyan was key to their success. Two group stage goals (both penalties) helped Ghana reach the knockouts, and then a 93rd-minute strike downed the United States in the last 16.
That set up a quarter-final tie with Uruguay. In one of the most dramatic moments in World Cup history, Gyan smashed a last-minute penalty against the bar after Luis Suarez handballed on the line, but picked himself up to score in the penalty shootout. They still lost, mind.
9. Mesut Ozil
Before he was a languid scapegoat for everything wrong at Arsenal, Ozil was actually a pretty decent player. He was the creative force of a Germany side that scored 16 goals in this tournament, including four against England in what was probably Ozil’s best performance of the tournament. Joachim Low's side were clinical on the break, and the then-Werder Bremen player’s ability to pick the right pass under pressure proved key.
8. Arjen Robben
When the Dutch winger left Chelsea, few would have predicted the longevity of his top-level career. His style of play hasn’t really changed much since 2010, where he was one of the best players despite starting the tournament nursing a hamstring injury. That restricted him to just one substitute appearance in the group stage, but in the knockout rounds he more than justified his inclusion in the squad.
Robben scored the first goal in a 2-1 last-16 win over Slovakia, and then again in Holland's 3-2 semi-final win over Uruguay. He also spurned their best chance in the final, though – a miss which he says still haunts him.
7. Bastian Schweinsteiger
Don’t be fooled by Schweinsteiger’s spell at Manchester United, when he was about as mobile as a railway snack trolley. The 2010 vintage was a different beast entirely – part winger, part marauding midfielder, Schweini was quick, strong and powerful. At 25, he was still one of the most experienced members of Germany’s young side, and was tasked with replacing the injured Michael Ballack in the centre of midfield.
His best performance came in the 4-0 shellacking of Argentina in the quarter-finals – the German’s answer to some playful pre-game jibes from Diego Maradona. "What's the matter Schweinsteiger? Are you nervoushh?" the outspoken Albiceleste manager had said directly to camera, in a faux-German accent. Evidently not, Diego.
6. David Villa
Spain had struggled to find a clinical striker for years before Villa came along. Having already fired them to glory in Euro 2008, he repeated the feat at the World Cup. The Barcelona-bound attacker scored five of Spain’s eight goals en route to glory, including a long-range strike from distance against Chile into an empty net left vacated by one Claudio Bravo.
The Spanish were far from as fluent in South Africa as they’d been two years previously, but their string of 1-0 wins couldn't have happened without Villa’s clinical finishing.