The 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa proved to be every inch the spectacle promised by organisers of these first global showpiece staged on African soil. As the competition’s official website, FIFA.com featured a vast array of interviews with the tournament's top stars. Read on for a sampling of some of the more enticing one-on-ones, or click on the link to the right to read them all.
Andres Iniesta (ESP), 12, July 2010
I'm happy, I'm really happy, that I've been able to score these decisive goals. But the whole team's done an excellent job
Diego Forlan (URU), 12 July 2010
I’m enjoying it [being named South Africa 2010’s top player] and I’m delighted, but I’m very aware that it’s the result of the spectacular tournament the team has had. It’s another reward for this positive period for Uruguayan football.
Robin van Persie (NED), 11 July 2010
Cesc [Fabregas] is a fantastic player. I also find it really strange that he isn’t in the first team for Spain. I don't understand that at all. I think he’s incredible. I’ve been playing at Arsenal for six years with him and every year he’s improved. He’s the captain of our team and I have a lot of respect for him.
Antolin Alcaraz (PAR), 3 July 2010
Just being in the national team was a surprise for me. I think we had three or four players who joined in the squad just before the World Cup. I was surprised to make the final squad and the fact that I started the game against Italy, and scored our goal, was probably the highpoint of my career so far and something to remember for the rest of my life.
Martin Demichelis (ARG), 2 July 2010
South American Zone qualifying is very tough - you only need to look at the quarter-final line-up here to see that half the teams come from our region. Both our style of play and Diego Maradona’s coaching ability came under fire, but we did have to get used to a change of coach, a new style and new players coming in.
Eusebio (POR), 2 July 2010
The players gave everything they had in every game and that’s always the most important thing because results can be unpredictable. We know that we have an excellent team and that we’re in good shape for the next few big tournaments.
Jens Lehmann (GER), 2 July 2010
We've seen a few good matches and a few disappointing ones, obviously. But that's normal at a huge tournament like this.
Eljero Elia (NED), 1 July 2010
We can play a lot better than we have. We’ve been getting the results, but we’ve not yet shown the kind of team we are and the kind of football we can play. We’ve been controlling all the matches, but I think we can still get a lot better and I am sure we will.
Stephen Appiah (GHA), 29 June 2010
I am warmed by the players. You can see that there is no tension, no pressure. Always with smiles, singing and laughing – stuff like that. What I've learnt is the more pressure you put on yourself, the more things go wrong. So, I have been telling the guys that they should be free [and that] nobody should even think about the games.
Yasuhito Endo (JPN), 28 June 2010
We have put in a great deal of effort in training so we are able to move forward very strongly when the ball is passed. Set-pieces are also an important weapon for us. We are also strong when playing as a group.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst (NED), 27 June 2010
We know what’s it’s like to go out of a tournament after one bad match. It’s a familiar feeling actually, and we do not want to feel it again. I hope it will be different here. I am thrilled with the way the team has been playing here in South Africa.
Rafael Marquez (MEX), 26 June 2010
I behave exactly the same on the pitch whether I'm wearing the captain's armband or not. But it's a big responsibility, as well as a good incentive to be well-motivated and to lead by example. It's a great honour.
Sylvain Wiltord (FRA), 24 June 2010
It's completely inexplicable and worrying. This team isn't attractive to watch. There's a real lack of desire and understanding between the players. That can't be the fault of the coach alone.
Salomon Kalou (CIV) 24 June 2010
I think all of us have put lots of pressure on ourselves because this World Cup is being played on our continent. Expectations were huge and we owed it to ourselves to perform well, but the pressure has caused us more stress than anything else and even inhibited our talents. There have been a few players who haven’t been up to the standard required. Their abilities have been crushed by the pressure they’ve put on their own shoulders.
Marek Hamsik (SLK), 23 June 2010
We could have done better. We haven’t showed the best of ourselves and in our last group game we absolutely have to demonstrate that we’ve made improvements.
Xavi (ESP), 23 June 2010
Yes, I’m a footballing romantic just like Cruyff. We like football that is attractive, attacking and easy on the eye. When you win playing like this it’s twice as satisfying. Switzerland’s tactics won them the game; they were trying to find a way to nullify us.
Dirk Kuyt, 23 June 2010
What I try to do as a player is work hard, fight for the ball. Obviously every team wants to perform well, play well, get the good results and score more goals and great goals, but this is the World Cup and every opponent can hurt you.
Michael Bradley (USA), 22 June 2010
I try to play with intensity every time I step on the field. It doesn't matter for me if it's a World Cup or a league match, or training. I am who I am as a player, and it's important to know the things that I do that help my team. I always try to bring that to the table.