In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet in every week, in every league and in every single match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle that it is.
That's why, every week, we at FIFA.com take a look at the numbers behind the results, highlighting football's biggest winners and losers from the week just past. This week, we pay tribute to one goalscorer bidding farewell and another announcing his arrival, while also looking forward to the impending action at Beijing 2008.
goals in 64 matches is the record with which Ruud van Nistelrooy departs the international scene after confirming this week that he has played his last game for the Netherlands. The Real Madrid striker won his first cap in a friendly against Germany on 18 November 1998 and retires 10 years on knowing that only three players have scored more goals for the Oranje. Patrick Kluivert leads the way with 40 from 79 caps, Dennis Bergkamp follows closely behind on 37 from the same number of appearances, while Faas Wilkes managed a laudable 33 in just 38 games between 1946 and '61. Van Nistelrooy's retirement makes new Real team-mate Rafael van der Vaart - one of five Dutch internationals now on the books of the Spanish champions - the most prolific of the Netherlands' active players, with 12 goals.
world titles in FIFA men's competitions is the unmatched haul that Brazil have accrued down the years, with five FIFA World Cups™ supplemented by three FIFA U-20 and U-17 World Cups apiece, two FIFA Confederations Cups, three FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups and three FIFA Futsal World Cups. To date, however, there remains one glaring gap in the Seleção's sensational CV: an Olympic gold. Two silvers (1984 and 88) and a bronze (1996) is as close as the Brazilians have come in previous tournaments, although Dunga - part of that class of '84 - is hopeful that the a squad containing Ronaldinho, Diego and Alexandre Pato can rewrite history in Beijing.
goals from her three previous Women's Olympic Tournaments has established Birgit Prinz as the competition's all-time top scorer, one ahead of Brazil's Pretinha. These veterans, 30 and 33 respectively, go into Beijing 2008 making up two-thirds of an illustrious trio of women who have found the net at three seperate Olympics, a group completed by the legendary Mia Hamm. Unlike Hamm, however, neither Prinz nor Pretinha have ever been able to strike gold at this prestigious event. The latter came closest as part of the Brazil team edged out 2-1 after extra time by USA in the 2004 final, while Prinz - who has two FIFA Women's World Cup winners medals to her name - has twice been forced to make do with bronze: at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.
was the number the late, great Bobby Moore wore in his first West Ham United appearance on 8 September 1958, and it was a shirt he went on to make his own during a glittering 16-year career with the Hammers. This week, in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of that debut, the London club confirmed that they will officially retire the No6 shirt in honour of their most successful-ever captain. Moore, capped 108 times and renowned worldwide as the cultured centre-half who skippered England to FIFA World Cup glory in 1966, made 544 appearances for West Ham, leading the club to FA Cup glory in 1964 and victory in the European Cup Winners' Cup the following year. Matthew Upson, the player who wore the No6 last season and will now take on the No15, has described the move to retire Moore's shirt as a "fitting contribution" towards honouring his legendary predecessor.
goals in his last four Allsvenskan matches appears to confirm that, in Robin Soder, Sweden have unearthed another special striking talent. The IFK Gothenburg striker only turned 17 four months ago, but his rise since joining the Swedish champions in December of last year has been meteoric. Sweden's captain at U-17 level, Soder is now not only keeping Gothenburg in a title race which sees them trail leaders Kalmar by six points - he has also helped fire the Änglarna into the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League. His pace and composure in front of goal are already causing headaches for domestic defences, and leading to suggestions that the Swedes may well have an heir to Messrs Larsson and Ibrahimovic.