Titans meet in Yokohama

  • ​A compelling duel between Kahn and Ronaldo decorated the Final

  • One captured two pieces of gold; the other the most precious piece going

  • Ronaldo couldn’t even remember where he stopped over on way home!

30 June 2002; Yokohama, Japan: the scene of the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ Final. Tournament heavyweights Germany and Brazil met, remarkably, for the first time in the competition’s history – and in the first decider to be held in Asia.

While much of the pre-match build-up centred on whether A Seleção could bounce back from their Final woes of France 1998 and go on to claim a record fifth world title, a personal battle between two titans of the game also generated enormous excitement ahead of kick-off.

Top goalscorer Ronaldo was facing off against the tournament’s standout goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. In the first half, it was looking like shot-stopper had got the better of striker at the International Stadium, with Kahn boasting a clean sheet while O Fenômeno was left to rue three missed chances.

But just as it seemed like the Brazilian’s shot at retribution after the agony in France four years earlier was slipping away, Ronaldo lit up the second half, eventually winning the personal tussle between himself and Kahn. After the Nationalelf shot-stopper had uncharacteristically fumbled Rivaldo’s effort from range, Ronaldo pounced to slot home the rebound before the lethal striker netted a second with a side-footed finish to seal the deal for Brazil and finish the tournament as the adidas Golden Boot winner, three goals clear of his nearest rivals.

Despite not getting his hands on the Trophy, captain Kahn would take home the adidas Golden Ball, the first time a goalkeeper had claimed the prestigious award, as well as the adidas Golden Glove. For Ronaldo and Co, meanwhile, the party lasted long into the night as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil celebrated their return to the top and a record fifth title.

"No one slept from take-off in Japan to landing in Brazil,” said Ronaldo, reflecting on that day with FourFourTwo. “There is a connection in the middle and I can’t remember where exactly because the party was in full flow by then. But we deserved it! After we arrived in Brazil, the celebrations went on for two more days. We were so worn out in the end."

Did you know? Oliver Kahn’s match-worn gloves from the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final are on display in the FIFA Football Museum in Zurich.