On 14 January 2000, in Rio de Janeiro, ace goal-getter Romario was spearheading a sensational Vasco da Gama attack against fellow Brazilian outfit Corinthians in the final of the first FIFA Club World Cup. On the same continent, it is possible that a 12-year-old named Lionel Andres Messi was kicking a ball about the streets of his native Rosario, Argentina, with his future FC Barcelona exploits still a world away.
A lot of history has of course been made between then and today, 6 December 2012, the start of the ninth edition of the FIFA Club World Cup – not least the fact that Messi picked up the adidas Golden Ball at the competition in both 2009 and 2011. FIFA.com takes a look back in time at some of the biggest moments so far at the global showpiece.
2000: The first edition of this competition featured representatives of all six confederations plus two invited clubs: Real Madrid and Corinthians. And it was the latter that went all the way to an all-Brazilian final against Vasco, in front of a record 73,000 crowd, which was eventually won on penalties by O Timão after Vasco’s Edmundo failed to convert his spot-kick. Claiming the adidas Golden Ball was Corinthians attacker Edilson, who thus pipped the likes of Raul, Fernando Redondo, Roberto Carlos, Romario, David Beckham, Alex Aguinaga, to name but a few, to the coveted award. Finishing on the podium were Mexico’s Necaxa, thanks to victory over Real in the play-off for third place, while then European champions Manchester United fell ignominiously at the first hurdle.
2005: The competition’s second edition was an unforgettable affair for Sao Paulo and their iconic goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni. The goal-scoring custodian found the net from the spot in his side’s semi-final win over Al Ittihad and pulled off a host of astonishing saves, particularly in the final against Liverpool, to help O Tricolor Paulista to the world title and snatch the Golden Ball. The Reds had gone into Japan 2005 on the back of an 11-game run without conceding, but were caught out by a solitary strike from a source even Sao Paulo fans would not have expected: defensive midfielder Mineiro. Six clubs took part, with third-place going to Costa Rica’s Deportivo Saprissa.
2006: Internacional, boasting a blend of canny veterans and exciting youngsters such as Alexandre Pato, made it three titles from three FIFA Club World Cups for Brazilian teams, after beating a star-studded Barcelona side in the final. Barça, then coached by Frank Rijkaard, included the likes of Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Ronaldinho Gaucho and Deco, though since their 2006 defeat to Inter, the trophy has only been won by European representatives. Again a six-team competition, a Mohamed Aboutrika-inspired Al-Ahly beat Mexico’s CF America – featuring Claudio Lopez, Salvador Cabanas and Cuauhtemoc Blanco – in the match for third place.
2007: Joining the fray were the champions of host nation Japan, in an edition AC Milan eventually won 4-2 in the final against Boca Juniors – the highest-scoring decider to date. I Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti was able to call upon the likes of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and the competition’s Golden Ball winner Kaka, while keeper Dida – a veteran of Corinthians’ 2000 success – became the first player to win the tournament twice with two different clubs. Also entering the record books was Iraq international Emad Mohammed, when scoring the event’s fastest ever goal after just 20 seconds of Iranian outfit Sepahan’s game against Waitakere United.
2008: Eight years on from appearing in the inaugural edition, Manchester United returned in style to add the world title to the UEFA Champions League and Premier League crowns already clinched earlier that year. Winner of the Golden Ball was Wayne Rooney, part of a fearsome attacking triumvirate also featuring Silver Ball winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. United’s 5-3 semi-final win over Japan’s Gamba Osaka was the competition’s highest-scoring game, though the final itself was a much tighter 1-0 affair: Rooney’s winner sinking Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito. The only veterans of the Red Devils’ 2000 campaign were Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.
2009: Lionel Messi made his competition bow and propelled Barça to one of the few titles previously missing from their bulging trophy cabinet. Not that the diminutive genius and his colleagues had things all their only way in the United Arab Emirates, needing to come from behind to beat Mexico’s Atlante and Argentina’s Estudiantes de La Plata in the semi-final and final respectively. The Azulgrana No10 scored twice and claimed the Golden Ball, though it was Pohang Steelers’ Brazilian forward Denilson who took top scorers’ honours with four. Not to be outdone, Messi would equal that record tally at the 2011 edition.
2010: Again in UAE, African representatives TP Mazembe Englebert became the first club from outside Europe or South America to reach the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, where they came up against Inter Milan. In the title decider it was Cameroon superstar Samuel Eto’o who made the biggest impact in Inter’s triumph, thanks largely to a goal and assist in the first half of a 3-0 win. The trophy capped a phenomenal year for the Italian giants, who had already celebrated victory in Serie A, the Coppa Italia, the Italian Supercup and the Champions League.
2011: Barcelona became the first club to win two FIFA Club World Cups and did so in dominant fashion. Dismissed 4-0 in the semi-finals were Qatar’s Al-Sadd, while Neymar's Santos were handed defeat by the same scoreline in the final. Those wins equalled the record margins of victory in competition history, a benchmark the Catalan giants set themselves in the 4-0 win over CF America at Japan 2006.