JOHANNESBURG -- To celebrate the conclusion of the World Cup, it's time for the first annual "World Cup Wheelsy Awards."
Unlike other awards, these one's are legit, gaining creditability by being Diego Maradona-free.
Congrats to all the winners.
Goal of the Tournament: Siphiwe Tshabalala (South Africa) ≠ There may have been other more spectacular goals, but none had greater meaning like the opening goal of the tournament. Tshabalala thumped a left-footed shot top corner ≠ a beautiful strike - igniting the nation. At that moment, South Africa's love affair with Bafana Bafana truly blossomed. The ensuing magical spirit carried on through the tournament, making the brace the most important goal of all.
Friendship Award: Germany and England. England supporters have always been referred to as bad apples, even hooligans. In South Africa, this simply wasn't the case. After a 4-1 thrashing, the English fans openly and warmly congratulated the German fans, en masse. It was something to behold. Even feeling hard done by by a disallowed goal didn't raise tempers. It was a wonderful scene and makes the infamous "English Stab Vests" that much more ridiculous.
Best Player: Diego Forlan (Uruguay). FIFA got it right giving the Golden Ball to a player on the fourth-place team. The Wheelsy's had it right all along and Forlan is most deserving. No player was more vital to his team.
Five goals was just part of it. Forlan moved from being the high man, to playing in the midfield, from taking corner kicks to being a constant threat to score. Diego did it all.
Most likely relocate to the O.C. after the World Cup: Joakim Low. His predecessor, Jurgen Klinsmann, was California Dreaming, but this German coach could seriously be separated at birth with actor Peter Gallagher, from the O.C.
The Coolest Person I Met Award: Asamoah Gyan (Ghana). Meeting Gary Player and having dinner with the guy who played Matt Damon's father in Invictus were both pretty cool. But running into Gyan at Sun City after he scored from the penalty spot in their draw with Australia was special. Not just because of who he is, but how polite and cordial he was to all around.
Best Fans: United States. Honourable mention goes out to Mexico (CONCACAF represented) and Australia (1,500 Aussie camped out in a cricket park in Durban and travelled 18 hours to games in the Northern part of the country).
But as far as the loudest, most patriotic, most die-hard, it was the Americans. They have arrived on the global soccer scene.
The 'You're too good to Flop' Award: Thomas Mueller (Germany). The kid has all the tools and five goals in this World Cup to boot. He has nine goals in 13 games for his country overall. The problem is he goes to the ground far too easily. Spare us the dramatics and stick to playing the game.
You're too good for that.
The Unbeatable Award: New Zealand is the unlikely answer to the trivia question, which was the only unbeaten team at the 2010 World Cup, will be the All White's. New Zealand tied all three of their games in the group stage.
The Cowardly Lion Award: The Netherlands. The Oranje had no confidence.
FIFA was left scrambling looking for hotel rooms for the Dutch, with Netherlands officials not bothering to book lodgings for anything after the quarterfinal. Apparently, they didn't think they'd get past Brazil.
Instead, this insecure bunch rolled all the way to the final.
Best Dressed: Bavaria girls. The women caused an uproar, but who will forget those orange dresses?
Best Host City: Cape Town. The city had it all. Great stadium, picturesque setting and a lively nightlife. And the weather was spectacular the last two weeks of the tournament.
Mr. Congeniality. Itumeleng Khune (South Africa). I've never seen a goalkeeper with superior distribution. But the way, he spouts off, yelling at his players, even the ball boys during the game takes being a "people person" to a whole new level.
Best Supporting Actor: Carles Puyol (Spain). Xavi, Iniesta and David Villa get more headlines, but Puyol is the rock that made Spain world champion.
It's time the press gave centre-backs, the most important position on the field, more credit.
Most Bias Media: South Korea. It's usually taboo to cheer in the press box. But sitting next to the South Korean media was like being in the crowd. You'd think they had money on it. Wait a second.
Best Goal Celebration: Milan Jovanovic (Serbia). Jovanovic was so excited to celebrate with Serbian supporters he brushed aside teammates, almost took out a cameraman, jumped over the advertising billboards and into nothingness. Literally. The concrete canal between the field and the crowd was deeper than expected and the goal scorer disappeared. He never really did reach his fans but the thought was pure.
Costume Design: Ghana, once again. Leave it to an African nation to inject some style. The white kit with the Black Star faded into a mesh shoulder was the best strip of them all, giving even more reason to call them "AfricaĻs Team."
Ensemble Cast: Korea DPR supporters. Hiring Chinese actors to support North Korea was both genius and depressing. But good on the Chinese/North Korean "fans" for working so hard. Best job ever.
Feel Good Story ≠ Richard Kingson (Goalkeeper, Ghana. A player deemed "a complete waste of space" when cut by Birmingham City upon relegation a couple years back, Kingson has been wasting away on the bench of Wigan Athletic. Ghanaian coach Milovan Rajevac, although criticized, kept faith in his maligned keeper. And his resolve paid off; with Kingson making massive saves against the U.S. to reach the quarterfinal. Good on Kingson and Rajevac.