Japan playmaker Homare Sawa has ended the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ in Germany as the tournament's towering figure. The midfield schemer, the driving force behind her country’s ultimate triumph, claimed the adidas Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament, and the adidas Golden Boot as top scorer. Japan's first-ever moment of glory on the global footballing stage will forever be associated with the 32-year-old’s consistently outstanding displays and priceless goals.
USA stars Hope Solo and Abby Wambach, goalkeeper and centre-forward for the unlucky but gallant losers, also collected two individual awards apiece. FIFA.com reviews the accolades handed out at the end of the tournament.
adidas Golden Ball: Homare Sawa (Japan)
In her fifth appearance at the FIFA Women's World Cup, the Japan No10 was more precious to her team than ever before. Deploying all her reserves of experience, skill and creativity, Sawa not only put in the spadework in front of her back four, effortlessly linking defence and attack with intelligent passes, but also released her forwards with killer through balls. The icing on the cake was her clinically-taken haul of five goals.
The 32-year-old superstar stamped her authority all over the finals, crowning her personal triumph in the final with a stunning 117th-minute equaliser to level the scores at 2–2, send the game into penalties, and ultimately realise her dream of global glory. “She's a ball-winner, the orchestrator of her side’s build-up play, and a goal-getter all in one. She's definitely one of the most complete players," declared Tina Theune, a FIFA Women's World Cup-winning coach with Germany in 2003 and a member of the FIFA Technical Study Group, speaking exclusively to FIFA.com. Sawa was not only named best player at the tournament, but also takes home the adidas Golden Boot as top scorer.
adidas Silver Ball: Abby Wambach (USA)
The once-in-a-generation USA striker missed the 2008 Women's Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing with injury, but she exploded back onto the world stage in Germany. She contributed no fewer than four goals as the North Americans came within a couple of minutes of a third FIFA Women's World Cup triumph, powering all her goals home with her head. Very few defenders were able to cope with the 31-year-old's intelligent movement, eye for goal and unyielding will to win, as she overtook the legendary Michelle Akers as USA’s top scorer at the finals, moving onto 13 goals to the latter's 12. Wambach was one of the biggest personalities in Pia Sundhage’s team at the tournament, although coming so near and yet so far on Sunday takes just a little of the gloss off a superb personal achievement.
adidas Bronze Ball: Hope Solo (USA)
Already hailed as the star keeper in the women's game, Hope Solo impressively confirmed that standing at the FIFA Women's World Cup finals in Germany. The first-choice US shot-stopper is not only a commanding presence between the sticks, but also boasts outstanding reflexes and calm control of her own penalty area. She did not concede until her side's third group fixture, where she was finally beaten by a Lisa Dahlkvist penalty against Sweden. In the thrilling quarter-final against Brazil, she made a world-class save from Daiane in the shoot-out to book her side's place in the last four. In addition to the adidas Bronze Ball, Solo was also named the tournament's best goalkeeper.
adidas Golden Boot: Homare Sawa (five goals, one assist)
adidas Silver Boot: Marta (four goals, two assists)
Brazil superstar Marta, named FIFA World Player of the Year five times on the bounce, showed all her silky class in her side’s four matches. Danger threatened for the Brazilians’ opponents whenever Marta took possession, as she deftly deployed her perfect skills and athleticism to weave her way towards goal, where she again demonstrated her clinical effectiveness. The striker scored four goals in as many games, but quite apart from her individual ability, proved a good team player with two assists and any number of penetrating passes. The tournament ends with a bitter taste for the world's best player, as the shoot-out defeat in the quarter-finals means she still lacks a major international trophy.
adidas Bronze Boot: Abby Wambach (four goals, one assist)
adidas Golden Glove: Hope Solo
Hyundai Best Young Player: Caitlin Foord (Australia)
At the tender age of 16, Caitlin Foord is already a key member of the Australia senior side, showing huge promise and maturity both in right midfield and at right-back. A golden future surely beckons following three much-praised displays at this FIFA Women's World Cup, where she combined solid defence with attacking creativity. “She has the potential to become the archetypal modern defensive player," declared April Heinrichs, TSG member and former USA coach, speaking exclusively to FIFA.com.
FIFA Fair Play Award: Japan
The Nadeshiko not only won a place in the hearts of women's football fans all over the world with their superb passing game and individual skill, they were also adjudged the fairest team at the tournament. Norio Sasaki’s players collected just five yellows and one red card at the finals. The new world champions, whose post-match thank-you banner addressed to their friends all over the world will remain one of the enduring images of the tournament, comfortably carried off the FIFA Fair Play award.
At the end of a tournament packed with incident, highlights and top-class football, 21 players were named in the All-star team. Goalkeepers: Ayumi Kaihori (JPN) and Hope Solo (USA). Defenders: Alex Scott (ENG), Laura Georges (FRA), Erika (BRA), Saskia Bartusiak (GER), Sonia Bompastor (FRA) and Elise Kellond-Knight (AUS). Defensive midfield: Shannon Boxx (USA), Homare Sawa (JPN), Caroline Seger (SWE) and Jill Scott (ENG). Attacking midfield: Kerstin Garefrekes (GER), Shinobu Ohno (JPN), Louisa Necib (FRA), Anonman (EQG), Aya Miyama (JPN) and Lauren Cheney (USA). Forwards: Lotta Schelin (SWE), Marta (BRA) and Abby Wambach (USA).