The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ broke new ground simply by being held on African soil, and with Spain joining the elite club of world champions it delivered two major firsts in the history of the game. Those were the most obvious milestones set at South Africa 2010, but the whole tournament was bursting with unprecedented events in a whole range of areas, from team results to player landmarks. FIFA.com now takes you through a full list of firsts from the global showcase.
Slovenia and Greece both picked up their maiden FIFA World Cup wins in South Africa, with Slovenia downing Algeria 1-0 thanks to a Robert Koren goal and their fellow Europeans seeing off Nigeria 2-1.
Japan also enjoyed a breakthrough win of sorts as their 2-1 victory against Cameroon constituted their first ever FIFA World Cup finals success away from home, eight years after they defeated Tunisia 2-0 in Osaka.
As for New Zealand, their 1-1 opening draw with Slovakia earned them their very first FIFA World Cup point. Having finally opened their account following three straight reverses in 1982, the Kiwis maintained their momentum by securing a 1-1 draw with Italy and a goalless stalemate with Paraguay.
Dimitrios Salpingidis’s equaliser against Nigeria finally ended Greece’s goal drought at this level, his strike coming after 404 minutes and over four games without a single effort. There was a first for Daniel Agger too, but the Denmark defender would doubtless prefer not to be on this list as his own goal against the Netherlands proved his country’s first on the global stage. In another unwanted precedent, Denmark were also on the receiving end of Japan’s first ever three-goal haul in a FIFA World Cup finals outing.
Adding a further deed to his list of exploits, Didier Drogba became the first African player to score against Brazil in six meetings between A Seleção and teams from the African Zone. Meanwhile, on a slightly more esoteric note, midfielder Michael Bradley became the first FIFA World Cup scorer to be coached by his father when he equalised for the United States in their 2-2 draw with Slovenia.
Vladimir Stojkovic can pride himself on being the first Serbian goalkeeper to have kept out a penalty at a FIFA World Cup courtesy of his save to deny Germany’s Lukas Podolski. In contrast, David Villa became the first Spanish player to miss a spot-kick in the tournament when he failed to register against Honduras.
The new world champions can nonetheless lay claim to a more desirable landmark as Iker Casillas became the first goalkeeper to stop penalties in two different FIFA World Cups. The Real Madrid No1 first thwarted the Republic of Ireland’s Ian Harte at Korea/Japan 2002 before frustrating Oscar Cardozo of Paraguay in the quarter-finals.
Mirroring that feat, Asamoah Gyan entered the history books as the first player to miss spot-kicks in separate editions of the competition, following up his failed effort against the Czech Republic at Germany 2006 with another fruitless attempt against Uruguay in the last eight.
Cuauhtemoc Blanco can now boast that he is the only Mexican international to have scored in three different FIFA World Cup final tournaments, having added South Africa 2010 to his list by finding the target against France. Rigobert Song did not register for Cameroon, on the other hand, but he nonetheless returned home with a record as the first African player to have appeared in four FIFA World Cups.
Somewhat less distinguished, Nigeria’s Sani Keita and Switzerland’s Valon Behrami became the first players from their countries to collect red cards at the finals when they were dismissed against Greece and Chile respectively.
Paraguay reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history at South Africa 2010, experiencing a joy not shared by Italy, who exited the tournament without a single win to their name.
As for South Africa, they became the first FIFA World Cup host nation to be eliminated at the end of the group stage.
Chile’s pair of 1-0 successes against Honduras and Switzerland were their maiden FIFA World Cup triumphs outside South America, La Roja having only previously secured wins at Uruguay 1930, Brazil 1950 and Chile 1962.
Algeria’s achievement was to record their first clean sheet in the global arena as they clinched a goalless draw with no less a team than England, while Paraguay topped their group for the first time. Better still, the Netherlands managed a feat beyond all previous Oranje sides by winning each of their three group games.
Lastly, the quarter-final line-up proved unprecedented with South American teams outnumbering their European counterparts by four to three, but the Old Continent came out on top in the end as Spain lifted the Trophy for the very first time.