2009 was a memorable year for fans, with both domestic and international tournaments showcasing football in all its excitement and drama. As the year's conclusion approaches, FIFA.com relives some of the most magical moments captured on camera over these past 12 months. All photographs mentioned below can be found in the galleries to the right of this article.
Images of ecstasy
2009 belonged to Barcelona, who won an unprecedented sextuple, and the euphoric scenes following their conquests made for some stunning photos. Thierry Henry used the UEFA Champions League trophy as a hat, Daniel Alves was pictured kissing the FIFA Club World Cup prize, and coach Pep Guardiola was, repeatedly, snapped being hoisted into the air by his squad, while the Catalan giants' principal star, Lionel Messi, also got in on the act.
The world was introduced to the vuvuzela at the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009. Creating a sound that resembles a swarm of bees, the instrument was embraced by more than just locals, with many other team supporters getting into the buzz.
Brazilian triumphs have eternally provoked wild celebrations. So, imagine the mood after A Seleçao recovered a two-goal deficit to beat USA 3-2 in the South Africa 2009 final?
Behind the scenes
In 2009, FIFA.com introduced fans to more than just images from the pitch. Exclusive FIFA.com photos from inside dressing rooms and tunnels before matches gave fans an intimate look behind the scenes. Kaka’s boots, Fernando Torres's steely gaze in the tunnel prior to facing Iraq, and South African captain Aaron Mokoena’s quiet moment before the semi-final against Brazil at the FIFA Confederations Cup were just some of these intimate moments captured.
Florentino Perez’s return to the club presidency of Real Madrid in June heralded a second era of Los Galacticos. Cristiano Ronaldo (a record-breaking £80m), Kaka (£59m), Benzema (£30m) and Xabi Alonso (around £30 million) were at the heart of the new Madrid revolution. The result – arguably one of the most photographed club teams of 2009.
FIFA World Cup qualifiers
There were so many world-class moments in 2010 FIFA world Cup™ qualification. Perhaps the most emotional was Argentinian Martin Palermo's goal celebration in the rain after scoring a last minute life-saver against Peru. In the European playoffs, there were the dramatic images captured during Ireland Republic's extra-time loss to France, Slovenia’s surprise win over Russia and Portugal’s qualifying celebrations after almost missing out on South Africa 2010.
The Final Draw
December was the month in which fans finally got to find out the composition of the groups for South Africa 2010. Hosted in Cape Town South Africa, the Final Draw was a slick, star-strewn event. The actual draw event aside, the unveiling of the 2010 FIFA World Cup match ball – adidas's Jabulani - and the FIFA fan fest held on Long Street were also memorable events.
Tournaments in Africa
Africa was the host continent for a number of FIFA tournaments in 2009 and provided an exotic backdrop for photographers. Nigeria hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2009 and made it all the way to the finals only to have their hopes crushed by tournament underdogs Switzerland. In the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009, Ghana became the first African team to win a FIFA U-20 tournament after beating Brazil on penalties. At the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Dubai 2009 Brazil won their fourth consecutive title. All competitions were captured in all their drama, intensity and beauty by FIFA.com's photographic network.