Piura waves goodbye to Peru 2005
It is impossible to say which city has proved to be the best venue of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005, but it is safe to assume that not one of them has been prouder to be a tournament host than the northern city of Piura.
Big crowds, a carnival atmosphere and a fiesta of goals combined to make the Miguel Grau Stadium quite possibly the party capital of Peru 2005 and Piura's citizens were full of sorrow as they had to bid the championship goodbye after staging their final match at the weekend.
Seven games produced no fewer than 28 goals and at an average of four per game, Piurans were treated to free-flowing football of the highest order, with African sides Gambia and Ghana among the most popular teams on show.
Gambia earned their place in Piura's hearts with a sensational 3:1 victory over Brazil, though the dazzling spectacle and musical treats provided by their amazing fans were perhaps the decisive factors in their favour.
Ghana were given a huge standing ovation when they went out of the tournament after battling heroically with only 10 men for 70 minutes in a 1:1 draw against China when a victory would have sent them through to the last eight. Despite being a man down, Ghana attacked China in waves and made the situation seem as if it had been reversed. Piurans clearly loved Ghana's fighting spirit and they showed their appreciation in an emotional display of warmth and affection at the final whistle.
The same could be said of the place in general as that warmth was felt by all who came to Piura, a city standing almost 1,000km from the Peruvian capital Lima and close to the country's border with Ecuador.
From the impressive street parade put on by the locals on the eve of the first match, right up to fond farewell given to all its' international visitors after the quarter-final victory for Mexico over Costa Rica, Piura was a wonderful place to be - not least for the glorious and constant sunny weather, which was the envy of other venues.
Fans lining the streets for hours at a time, including overnight, in queues stretching longer than a kilometre turned out to be a common sight throughout the championship and their patience was rewarded with some fantastic games.
Feature: Piura venue guide
Carlos Martinez, who was among the many who worked tirelessly at the Miguel Grau Stadium on match days, said: "This was very, very nice for the people of Piura. It was a great experience for the volunteers and so exciting, but it's also sad that it is all over now. This kind of event opens a lot of doors for people in terms of work prospects. Peru isn't a highly developed country, so we need some support from outside and this event helps with that. Personally, I have learned so much from being a part of this, especially how unpredictable football can be."
Karina Sisniegas was also deeply involved in helping to run the show in Piura and she said: "For us it's really important for people to see our country and our city in particular. We never normally get as many foreign visitors as we do right now, even though Piura is a big tourist destination. I heard that even the Gambian fans were signing autographs when they were here! I think Piura has been the best city in the whole competition, but I guess I would say that because I am from Piura."
Cecilia Cevallos, who took the opportunity to visit her first football match at Sunday's quarter-final, said: "We had three Copa America games here last year and that was good, but it wasn't as big as this. People came to the stadium with their families and it's great to meet people from other cultures who think differently. It's sad that this is all over and everybody is leaving for things to go back to normal again."