Ceni: I see my team-mates in these awards
So often in the news because of exploits with his feet, it was Rogerio Ceni's hands that stole the show in the final of the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005. The Sao Paulo goalkeeper produced a stunning individual display to leave Liverpool's players shaking their heads in disbelief. Deservedly named adidas Golden Ball and Toyota Award winner, the Brazilian proved to be pretty poetic with his words too when talking to reporters after Sunday's final.
"The awards are nice to have but the win was not just about me," he said holding the twin prizes. "In the last eight months we've won the two greatest trophies of our history. When I look in these awards I see the faces of my team-mates, the coach and everyone involved at the club."
The 32-year-old was the scourge of Liverpool's Spanish strikers Fernando Morientes and Luis Garcia but perhaps the pick of his saves came in the 52nd minute when he threw himself to his left to keep out Steven Gerrard's 25-yard free kick.
"It was one of my best games, not the best. We have one of the best defences I've played in, but not the best," he said. "We never thought we were invincible, but now we are the winners. We know how to win when we need to."
Ceni, who was on the bench in Yokohama when Brazil won the 2002 FIFA World Cup, felt the key to victory was self-belief.
"Winning was never a dream for me, it was always part of reality. And now it is real," said the fair-head keeper who dedicated his awards to daughters Beatriz and Clara.
"We played well first half and in the second we knew how to defend. It's a different sensation to winning the World Cup because I've been at this club for 15 years - it feels very special."
Coach Paulo Autuori agreed that it was a team effort.
"Rogerio Ceni has had an amazing season too, but I don't want to pick any one person out. It was a collective victory," he said. "It's the third time we've won here (won Toyota Cups in 1992 and 1993) and I feel proud. It's a great achievement for the club."
The Brazilian was quick to praise Liverpool's performance but said that the record books would register Sao Paulo's name as champions.
"The most important thing in football is the final score," he said. "It was very important to pressurise Liverpool and I was happy about how we started the match. Our team has played more than 80 games this season so it was a tremendous physical sacrifice in the second half. We deserved the title. We won against a great team."
Liverpool made five changes to the semi-final starting line-up against Deportivo Saprissa, while Sao Paulo used just 12 players during the two games.
"In Brazil we don't change so many players from one game to another," he said. "We may have only used 12 players but the victory is for all the squad that has contributed throughout the season.
The satisfied coach even had a word for the thousands of Paulista supporters who never stopped singing throughout the match.
"I would like to thank the fans," he added. "There is a special link. The public brings passion, the players show sacrifice and that equals victory."
Mineiro, who grabbed the 27th-minute winner, was ecstatic as he spoke to a clutch of reporters after the match.
"It is the happiest moment in my career," began the midfielder. "Other than the goal, I think the team deserved the win for the grit they showed.
"It was difficult because Liverpool were very strong in the air and we lacked height. They are tactically strong and have excellent individual players. But when we left Brazil, we thought if we all played together we could win. Spiritually, we've been ready for them for a long time."
Right-back Cicinho could not contain his glee.
"We've proven that Sao Paulo is the best team in the world," he said. "We played perfectly. We were strong in defence when we needed to be and while we had just a few chances, we took advantage of them."
Uruguayan defender Diego Lugano proudly held the trophy as he passed through the mixed zone: "We played very well in the first half and showed the technical skills that Brazilians have. In the second half we were defending and made the error of not holding onto the ball for long enough. But we're delighted to be called world champions."
Veteran striker Amoroso, who has played at the very top for Brazil and in Europe, said it was the greatest achievement of his life.
"I dedicate it to God and to my family," he said. "It's the most important title of my career. It's great for the younger players but we'll all be celebrating together in the hotel."