Legends set the standard
With Kaka, Fernando Torres and Andrea Pirlo among the superstars currently limbering up for this year's FIFA Confederations Cup, debate is raging about who will emerge as the tournament's outstanding player. Whoever shines in South Africa will certainly be following in some illustrious footsteps, with the likes of Gabriel Batistuta, Romario, Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho having illuminated the previous seven editions. FIFA.com looks back.
Saudi Arabia 1992: Argentinians excel
The FIFA Confederations Cup's first steps were understandably tentative, with just four teams contesting an inaugural edition unrecognisable from the tournament South Africa is about to stage. Argentina were the undisputed star attractions and, sure enough, it was in the Albiceleste's ranks that the tournament's outstanding players were to be found. Gabriel Batistuta signalled his intentions with two goals inside the first ten minutes of an opening 4-0 opening win over Côte d'Ivoire, and with Fernando Redondo and Diego Simeone pulling the strings from midfield, Alfio Basile's side went on to claim a comfortable 3-1 final victory over the hosts.
Saudi Arabia 1995: Danes deliver
Four teams became six for the second edition, yet there was to be a shock for those expecting that Batistuta and Co would once again take top billing. Batigol did repeat the feat of scoring twice in his opening appearance, but he and Nigeria's Daniel Amokachi were beaten to the top scorer award by Luis Garcia of Mexico. The real stars, however, were clad in the red shirts of champions Denmark, for whom the class of the Brian and Michael Laudrup was complemented by the skill and industry of less-heralded players such as Bjorn Kristensen and Peter Rasmussen.
Saudi Arabia 1997: Denilson dazzles
This was the year the FIFA Confederations Cup truly came to life. With the current eight-team format in place for the first time, the likes of Alvaro Recoba, Harry Kewell and Vladimir Smicer - the tournament's second-top scorer with five goals - all succeeded in underlining their international credentials. No-one, however, could compete with the brilliant Brazilians. Ronaldo and Romario, who became the tournament's all-time leading scorer, grabbed 11 goals between them, including a hat-trick apiece in a 6-0 defeat of Australia in the final, while Cafu and Roberto Carlos showed just why they would be renowned as arguably the greatest full-backs on the planet for the best part of a decade. Yet all were left in the shadow of the competition's first-ever adidas Golden Ball winner, Denilson, whose spectacular showings convinced Real Betis to part with a then-world record £21.5m to take him to Seville the following year.
Mexico 1999: Silver and gold for Ronnie
To say that 1999 was a busy year for Ronaldinho would be something of an understatement. Having starred at the FIFA World Youth Championship and in Brazil's triumphant Copa America campaign in the months leading up to the FIFA Confederations Cup, the 19-year-old might have been forgiven for the odd weary, lacklustre performance. Instead, he was the tournament's shining light, scoring in every match except the final to lay claim to both the adidas Golden Ball and Golden Shoe awards. He would, however, doubtless have gladly swapped places with the triumphant trio of Jorge Campos, Luis Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, all of whom impressed for the hosts en route to a thrilling 4-3 win over Ronnie's Brazil in the decider.
Korea/Japan 2001: Bleu is the colour
With the previous two 'Festivals of Champions' having doubled as feasts of goals, the 2001 edition provided a distinctly meagre return, with a two-goal tally enough to see seven players claim a share of the top scorer prize. Four of this septet hailed from champions France and, of these, Robert Pires was undoubtedly the most impressive. Rivals Mark Schwarzer and Hidetoshi Nakata excelled along with team-mates Patrick Vieira and Sylvain Wiltord, but it was the Arsenal winger who succeeded in bringing some much-needed artistry to a largely uninspiring tournament.
France 2003: King Henry crowned
Though destined to be forever remembered for the tragic death of Marc-Vivien Foe, the fifth edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup did produce some memorable individual displays. Shunsuke Nakamura, Tuncay Sanli and Geremi all made their mark, but it was the holders and hosts who did most to thrill supporters and neutrals alike, with Thierry Henry the jewel in their crown. Combining speed, skill and strength to spectacular effect, the Arsenal striker was named man of the match on three separate occasions and cruised to an adidas Golden Shoe and Golden Ball double as France retained their trophy.
Germany 2005: Adriano does the double
Eight years on from Ronaldo, Romario and Denilson dismantling the opposition in Saudi Arabia, Brazil again brought out their big guns - and the outcome was identical. The Seleção ran into some stern resistance along the way, with Japan, Germany and Argentina inspired by Nakamura, Michael Ballack and Juan Roman Riquelme respectively. However, Riquelme and Ronaldinho were both deservedly pipped to the adidas Golden Ball by the man who also finished as the tournament's top scorer: Adriano. With Kaka and Robinho completing a fearsome front four, the Inter Milan striker blasted home five goals - each seemingly better than the last - to leave an indelible mark on another memorable competition.