The 2006 World Cup All-Star Team included Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and footballs King of Cool
The 2018 World Cup is just around the corner, so talkSPORT.com are trawling through the archives to relive past tournaments.
Today we are taking a look at the 2006 edition, won by Italy in Germany – the first time they hosted the nation since reunification.
The tournament was, unexpectedly, quite brilliant. The hosts were a joy to watch, Brazils Ronaldo became the all-time record World Cup scorer by netting his 15th goal in the competition, and Zinedine Zidane enjoyed the finest of swansongs to lead France to the final – before head butting Marco Materazzi in the Berlin showpiece.
Zidane was awarded the Golden Ball for being the best player at the tournament, but who else starred in Germany? The World Cup All-Star Team is named to remember the best performers, and you can see who was selected below
2006 FIFA WORLD CUP
Third place: Germany
Fourth place: Portugal
Top scorer: Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 5 goals
Best Player: Zinedine Zidane (France)
Best Young Player: Lukas Podolski (Germany)
2006 WORLD CUP ALL-STAR TEAM
GOALKEEPER: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, the Juventus legend currently looks as though he is heading for one final swansong in France with Paris Saint-Germain. How well he will be accepted by the French remains to be seen. After usurping Francesco Toldo at Euro 2006, Buffon stayed between the sticks for his country until last year, when the Italians were beaten in a play-off by Sweden. After not losing a game at Euro 2004 but failing to qualify from the group stages, Buffon was desperate for success. In Germany, the Juventus shot-stopper was in sensational form and allowed just two goals past him en route to claiming the trophy. He made an incredible 40 saves in the tournament and was named as second on the Ballon dOr list for the calendar year.
DEFENCE: Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy)
Such was Zambrottas reliability and versatility; he was able to be deployed at either right or left back. After overcoming an injury scare and missing the first game against Ghana, the Juventus full-back started the game against the USA as left-back, before being switched to the opposite flank for their final game. In the quarter-final against Ukraine, Zambrotta scored one, set one up and also made a goal line clearance as the Italians advanced even further. After overcoming Germany in the semi-final, World Cup victory was secured when Marcello Lippis men were able to overcome France in the Final on penalties, with Zambrotta a key component to their success.
DEFENCE: Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)
One of only three men to have won the Ballon dOr as a defender, Cannavaro was imperious at the back throughout his career. But his crowning moment came as he lifted the World Cup trophy above his head as captain of the Italian national team in Berlin. Such was his resolute display throughout the tournament; Cannavaro earned the nickname The Wall of Berlin from the German press. His defining moment from the tournament came when he out-jumped Per Mertesacker deep into extra time of the semi-final against Germany and helped set up a counter-attack for Alessandro Del Piero to score. He played in every minute of every game for the World champions, not collecting a single booking along the way.
DEFENCE: Lilian Thuram (France)
Thuram regained his place in the All-Star team from 1998 after a series of impressive defensive displays helped France get to the final. After the vast majority of the nations Golden Generation retired, France coach Raymond Domenech pleaded with the Juventus star to help his team, alongside Claude Makelele. He overtook Marcel Desailly as the record cap holder for his country en route to the final, picking up his 117th against South Korea in the group stages. A man-of-the-match performance in the semi-final (eerily similar to his heroics against Croatia eight years previously) secured progression to the Final, which they ultimately lost.
DEFENCE: Philipp Lahm
This was the first of three FIFA Team of the Tournaments Lahm was to star in, a testament to his quality. Nicknamed the Magic Dwarf by the German press, the versatile Bayern Mucnih legend showed he packed a punch in the opening game against Costa Rica with a spectacular goal. Deployed at left-back by boss Jurgen Klinsmann, Lahm cut inside onto his right foot and unleashed a rocket into the top corner. He would play a total of 690 minutes for the Germans and earned rave reviews for his consistent performances.
MIDFIELD: Luis Figo (Portugal)
A Portuguese legend, Figo came out of brief international retirement in 2005 to help his country qualify for the tournament in Germany. As captain during the World Cup, much was expected of superstar Figo and he guided his countries to three group stage wins. After beating England on penalties in the quarter-finals, a semi-final clash with France awaited. It was the furthest Portugal had progressed since the days of Eusebio. Their fairy-tale was short-lived as Figos Real Madrid teammate Zindeine Zidane knocked Portugal out. He ensured his 127th and final cap in the third place play-off was a success, setting up a consolation goal and getting rapturous applause from both the adoring Portugese fans and the Germans in the stadium.
MIDFIELD: Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
The man who famously claimed he spent the day playing PlayStation in the morning before winning the Wold Cup in the afternoon; Pirlo was the epitome of cool. His languid and cultured style was often misconstrued as laziness, but in truth, the midfielder was just on a different level to everyone else. He collected more Man-of-the-Match awards than anyone else and was joint top for assists in Germany. His incredibly composed performances earned him the Bronze Ball, the third best player at the tournament.
MIDFIELD: Gennaro Gattuso (Italy)
Before he was snarling and growling in opposition dugouts, Gattuso was snarling and growling on the pitch. The AC Milan player turned manager provided his midfield partner Pirlo with the perfect platform on which to excel. He did all the dirty, unseen work so that the more creative Pirlo could thrive. This selfless play was recognised by Italians everywhere in the final, and Gattuso duly repaid their support by removing his shorts and celebrating on the Berlin pitch in just his underwear. Until FIFA made him cover up, that is.
MIDFIELD: Zinedine Zidane (France)
Like Thuram, Zidane returned from international retirement to the FIFA Team of the Tournament for the 2006 World Cup. Playing a much deeper lying role than before, Zidane used all his tactical nous and skill to create from deep to the much quicker and immediately dangerous youngsters ahead of him. Having already announced his retirement before the tournament, fans knew Zidane would be playing his last game in the Final against Italy. A Panenka-style penalty just seven minutes in gave the French the lead before they were pegged back. And then came one of the most iconic moments in World Cup history. After Marco Materazzi allegedly made disparaging comments about a female member of the Frenchmans family, Zidane responded in kind with a headbutt to the chest. He was sent off and the image of him walking past the trophy is still as haunting now as it was at the time. In a poll after the tournament, 61% of French people had already forgiven Zidane, whiel 52% understood while he had done it. A true legend of the game, but what a shame to end it like that.
FORWARD: Miroslav Klose (Germany)
Top scorer of the tournament with five, Klose showed his predatory instincts with four in the group stages and one against Argentina in the quarter-final where he made his 100th appearance for his country. The top scorer in FIFA World Cup history with 16, Klose relished the international stage and was arguably more dangerous while on international duty than with his club.
FORWARD: Thierry Henry (France)
After an indifferent start to the tournament, Henry began to find form at just the right time the story of his career, you could argue. Deployed as a lone striker by Raymond Domenech, the Arsenal striker started to score as the competition reached the latter stages. His goal against Brazil in the quarter-final proved conclusive and he was robbed of the chance to take a penalty because of cramp in the Final against Italy.
*The 2006 World Cup All-Star Team featured 23 players. We have cut the selection down to 11 to field a 4-4-2 formation. The 12 players excluded are: Jens Lehmann (goalkeeper, Germany), Ricardo (goalkeeper, Portugal), Roberto Ayala (defender, Argentina), John Terry (defender, England), Ricardo Carvalho (defender, Portugal), Ze Roberto (midfielder, Brazil), Patrick Vieira (midfielder, France), Michael Ballack (midfielder, Germany), Maniche (midfielder, Portugal), Hernan Crespo (forward, Argentina), Luca Toni (forward, Italy), Francesco Totti (forward, Italy)
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