On the day of the Final, the winners of the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy outshine everything and everyone else. For the fourth time in the history of the FIFA World Cup, Germany have laid hands on the most prized trophy in football. But away from the action itself, a number of outstanding players have been recognised with individual awards, spearheaded by Argentina’s Lionel Messi, named the tournament’s best player by FIFA’s Technical Study Group.
Adidas Golden Ball: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
A true captain and a true matchwinner. There can be no finer compliment to Argentina skipper Lionel Messi, who was so influential in his team’s path to the Final. With some questioning just how influential he would be in Brazil after a demanding season for Barcelona and concerns over a troublesome hamstring, he silenced the doubters by simply being his usual inspirational self. He mesmerised at the Maracana by scoring and setting up another in the 2-1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. He scored late on against Iran to send the team through to the Round of 16 and then added two in the 3-2 win over Nigeria. But he didn’t stop there. He played the ball to Angel Di Maria, who scored in the 118th minute of the match against Switzerland to send them through to the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals he stroked home a penalty to help his side defeat the Dutch. And while the personal accolade may be scant reward for a runners-up medal, he can be justifiably proud of his performances at this FIFA World Cup.
Adidas Silver Ball: Thomas Muller (Germany)
Adidas Bronze Ball: Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
adidas Golden Boot: James Rodriguez (Colombia) – 6 goals, 2 assists
Colombia’s No10 made an instant impact at Brazil 2014, setting up Los Cafeteros’s opening two goals and scoring in the last minute in their 3-0 win over Greece, earning the Budweiser Man of the Match Award in the process. He picked up the same accolade in the next match, a 2-1 win over Côte d’Ivoire, having provided an assist for Juan Fernando Quintero and found the target once more. The Monaco man was at it again in the final group game against Japan, entering the fray as a second-half substitute, yet making time to create two goals for Jackson Martinez and score himself. Rodriguez then made history when he scored twice in the 2-0 win over Uruguay, ensuring Colombia qualified for the quarter-finals of a FIFA World Cup for the first time. There he tasted defeat for the first time against Brazil, but converted a consolatory penalty and earned a standing ovation from the crowd in Fortaleza for his efforts.
Adidas Silver Boot: Thomas Muller (5 goals, 3 assists)
Adidas Bronze Boot: Neymar (4 goals, 1 assist)
Adidas Golden Glove: Manuel Neuer (Germany)
After winning the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup with Bayern Munich, the 28-year-old now has the adidas Golden Glove to add to his growing collection. The Germany No1 was in fine form for the Nationalmannschaft during Brazil 2014, conceding just four goals in seven games and impressing FIFA’s Technical Study Group with his shot-stopping ability, his commanding presence and his ability to start attacks from his own penalty area. Indeed, he has been dubbed a ‘sweeper-keeper’ by sections of the media for his performances at this World Cup, featuring plenty of evidence of his desire to come off his line and play accurate passes when under pressure.
Hyundai Young Player Award: Paul Pogba (France)
The France midfielder was considered to be the pick of the players born after 1 January 1993 at this World Cup. The Juventus midfielder played in all five of Les Bleus’ games, having an impact in the 5-2 win over Switzerland by creating a goal for Karim Benzema and then scoring in the 2-0 win over Nigeria, in which he was named as the Budweiser Man of the Match. In picking up this award, he has won the Golden Ball award at the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the Young Player award at successive tournaments.
FIFA Fair Play Award: Colombia
The Group C winners who reached the quarter-finals were given this award, not only for collecting just five yellow cards in their five matches at Brazil 2014, but for scoring highly in the criteria set by FIFA’s Technical Study Group, which includes positive play, respect towards the opponent and match officials, as well as the behaviour of their team officials and supporters.