Golden race goes to the wire
And the winner is...
After a spectacular, emotion-laden and exciting fortnight at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 in South Africa, this question will finally be answered on Sunday. By the late evening, we will know the identity of the overall winners of the Festival of Champions, and simultaneously the name of the tournament's top scorer.
As the contenders limber up for their final challenges, FIFA.com reviews the list of previous winners and assesses the chances of the contenders this time round.
The first man to receive the Golden Shoe was Brazil ace Romario after the 1997 event in Saudi Arabia. Now 43, the striker showed all his undoubted class in scoring seven goals in four matches, half the total achieved by A Seleção, a record which still stands at the FIFA Confederations Cup. However, the potent marksman saw his team-mate Denilson claim the adidas Golden Ball, another one-off at a tournament where the top scorer has also normally been named best player.
Two years later, an Auriverde star again carried off the adidas Golden Shoe when the honour went to Ronaldinho. In fact, both Marzouk al Otaibi of Saudi Arabia and Cuauhtemoc Blanco of hosts and eventual winners Mexico also scored six times, but the Brazilian demonstrated his quality in other areas too, specifically as a provider of goals. Ronaldinho remains the solitary Golden Shoe recipient not drawn from the ranks of the overall winners.
In the next three editions of the event, the adidas Golden Shoe and Golden Ball, and the team trophy itself, all went to the same nation. France winger Robert Pires started the series in Korea/Japan in 2001. The highlight of a fine tournament for the former Arsenal star was the opening goal against Brazil in the semi-final. A modest total of two goals was enough for Pires to claim a share of the top scorer honours that year with no fewer than half-a-dozen other players, but Pires and team-mate Eric Carriere nosed in front on assists and shared first place.
France defended the trophy in front of their home crowd in 2003, with the title of lead marksman going to Thierry Henry. The striker scored the vital opening goal in the 3-2 semi-final win against Turkey, and the extra-time winner and only goal of the final against Cameroon, deservedly walking off with the accolades as Best Player and leading scorer of the tournament with four goals.
'All good things come in threes' as they say, and at the 2005 edition in Germany, Adriano went home with the adidas Golden Ball, the Golden Shoe, and the prestigious team trophy. In a repeat of events two years earlier, a striker proved the match-winner in both the semi-finals and the final. The burly hitman put his Seleção side ahead early on in the 3-2 win over Germany, and the 4-1 success against Argentina. L'Imperatore hit the target a total of five times at the 2005 event.
Turning to the present, and with 14 of the 16 matches played, two Spaniards and a Brazilian currently lead the way: David Villa, Fernando Torres and Luis Fabiano all have three goals so far, followed by Kaka and Clint Dempsey on two apiece. All are in action on the last day, and will be looking to boost their totals in the final and the third-place play-off.
Kaka with most assists
Torres, who fired a hat-trick in the opening match against New Zealand, has failed to add to his total since then. His strike partner David Villa was a consistent scorer in the group matches, but even Guaje was unable to net in the 2-0 semi-final defeat to the USA, as the North Americans skilfully and powerfully shut out their Iberian opponents.
Indeed, of the top ten marksmen, only Dempsey added to his total in the last four clashes. It does appear that assists could be the deciding factor in the race for the adidas Golden Shoe, in which case 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year Kaka would be a decent bet with two goals provided so far. Villa and Dempsey are the only other players in the top eight scorers who have chalked up an assist of their own.
Have your say
Who do you think will take home the adidas Golden Shoe? And who will have to be content with the Silver and Bronze awards?