The inaugural FIFA Club World Cup took place in Brazil in January 2000, when eight teams vied for the right to be called the best side in the world. Corinthians, playing in their homeland, ultimately triumphed following a penalty shootout defeat of compatriots Vasco da Gama in the final.
The trophy has been contested on four occasions thereafter, and for all its relative youth, the event has thrown up some highly memorable matches, magic moments and outstanding individual displays. FIFA.com takes a closer look.
Drama in Rio
The passionate fans who attended the first-ever FIFA Club World Cup witnessed an enthralling duel between Raja Casablanca and Al Nassr in Rio de Janeiro on 7 January 2000. The Saudi Arabians ended up squeezing out a 4-3 victory, but the tide turned one way and then another during an absorbing 90 minutes.
Al Nassr striker Mohammed Babkr left the field in tears with a painful injury before the half-hour was up, but his team-mates rallied and led 3-1 in the second period. The Moroccans battled back bravely and levelled, but the game turned on Youseff Safri’s dismissal, and Moussa Saib struck the Saudis’ winner shortly before the end.
Saprissa play catch-up
Five years later, Al Ittihad and Deportivo Saprissa met to decide third place. The Saudis were favourites against the Central Americans, with a line-up featuring star signings Joseph-Desire Job, Tcheco and Mohammed Kallon. However, the men from Costa Rica defied the odds and turned in a performance bristling with tenacity and resolve.
Goals from Kallon and Job meant the Asians were leading 2-1 with just five minutes to play, but the never-say-die CONCACAF side launched a last-ditch blitz and were rewarded when Alvaro Saborio completed his brace to equalise. Ronald Gomez then netted a superb winner a minute from the end to hand Saprissa a deserved bronze medal.
The final of the FIFA Club World Cup in 2007 paired Boca Juniors with AC Milan. There was no clear favourite prior to kick-off, so the Europeans’ swaggering display took most observers by surprise, as the UEFA Champions League holders tore into the powerful Argentinian outfit and stormed to a 4-2 success.
Filippo Inzaghi fired the Italians ahead, but Boca were level within a minute through Rodrigo Palacio. Milan upped the ante after the break, roaring into a 4-1 lead through Alessandro Nesta, Kaka and Inzaghi for the second time, before Pablo Ledesma made the scoreline more respectable in the dying minutes.
Comeback with goals galore
In 2008, the Tokyo public were treated to two remarkable matches. Fausto Pinto and Flavio handed Al Ahly a two-goal half-time lead over Pachuca in the quarter-finals, but the Mexicans came out after the break in fighting mood and equalised. Damian Alvarez and Christian Gimenez then scored in extra time to seal a 4-2 comeback victory.
The last four that year featured a veritable glut of goals when Gamba Osaka met Manchester United. United ultimately ran out 5-3 winners in the highest-scoring match yet seen at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Aside from producing some great games, the FIFA Club World Cup has also provided a worthy stage for gifted individuals to rise above themselves and power their teams to victory.
Manchester United hitman Wayne Rooney contributed three goals in total to the Premier League club’s overall victory last year. The England international duly collected the adidas Golden Ball as best player of the tournament.
Previously, the best player accolade at the FIFA Club World Cup has gone to Brazilian stars on no fewer than three occasions. The first was Edilson, whose two goals and two assists propelled Corinthians to the trophy.
A scintillating display in a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the 2005 final earned the Golden Ball for Sao Paulo keeper Rogerio Ceni, with countryman Kaka picking up the highly-prized award after the 2007 event. Portugal schemer Deco, named best player at the 2006 edition, also has his roots in Brazil, underlining the past dominance of players from the football-mad South American nation.