Cheers and tears on world stage
The FIFA Confederations Cup may be a mere 17 years old, but the tournament already boasts a rich and eventful history. Now, having already reflected on some of the great players and classic matches that have illuminated previous editions, we conclude this historical analysis with a closer look at some of the competition's most memorable moments.
Saudi Arabia 1997: Ro-Ro run riot
When both halves of a strike duo score a hat-trick each, the achievement is impressive enough in any context. However, when that partnership is comprised by two of the game's all-time greats, and the stage is a FIFA Confederations Cup final, it becomes more than a little special. Poor Australia, who had beaten Mexico and Uruguay en route and drawn with Brazil during the group stage, were as awestruck as they were aghast as the 20-year-old Ronaldo completed a 44-minute treble before Romario, 31, rounded off a 6-0 whitewash with 15 minutes still remaining. "We always got on well, especially out on the pitch," Ro-Ro's senior partner told FIFA.com, leaving the world to wonder how different the following year's FIFA World Cup™ might have been had injury not robbed Romario of the chance to renew this prolific alliance.
Mexico 1999: The Azteca explodes
Rightly renowned as one of football's greatest arenas, the Azteca has also witnessed several of the game's most iconic moments, from Brazil's crowning glory in 1970 to Diego Maradona's unstoppable, unforgettable run 16 years later. Yet in terms of pure, raw emotion, nothing before or since has been able to match the sights and sounds that accompanied Mexico winning their first world title in 1999. A crowd of 110,000 packed into the Azteca to roar their heroes to a thrilling 4-3 victory over holders Brazil, with El Tri's exuberant, attacking style reaping a richly-deserved reward in a fitting conclusion to the first FIFA Confederations Cup outside Saudi Arabia.
France 2003: Unity amid tragedy
Everyone will have their own opinion on the FIFA Confederations Cup's greatest moment, but no-one could dispute that the tournament's darkest hour arrived on 26 June 2003. The death of Marc-Vivien Foe, who collapsed during Cameroon's semi-final win over Colombia, devastated the entire football community. Yet out of this bewildering tragedy came a genuinely moving display of solidarity from the hosts and eventual champions. Many of the French players, whose own semi-final took place just hours after the tragic events in Lyon, knew Foe well from his time in Ligue 1, and they celebrated Thierry Henry's opener in a 3-2 win over Turkey by pointing to the sky in tribute. Then, after Les Bleus prevailed 1-0 in a sombre final, Marcel Desailly insisted that his Cameroonian counterpart Rigobert Song help lift the trophy as the players stood in front of a giant picture of their departed comrade.
Germany 2005: Fans brave the storm
The 2005 final encapsulated everything positive about this particular edition, and hinted at why the following year's FIFA World Cup would be such a resounding success. Brazil, with an irresistible front four of Kaka, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Adriano, were the undisputed star attractions of a tournament that produced 56 goals in 16 matches (an average of 3.5-per-game), and they justified every inch of hype in a thrilling 4-1 win over Argentina. Yet, for a time, it appeared that A Seleção's biggest win over their old rivals for 37 years was in danger of being overshadowed by a violent thunderstorm that breached the roof of the Waldstadion and sent rain cascading on to the pitch and spectators. Lesser fans might have bade a hasty retreat, but the German hosts stood shoulder to shoulder with their South American counterparts long after the final whistle to pay a warm tribute to players from both sides.
Have Your Say
These, of course, are just a few of the memorable moments that have punctuated the history of the FIFA Confederations Cup. But what's your favourite memory of the competition? And what do you expect will be the big talking point after South Africa 2009? Just click 'Add your comment' to share your views with the world.