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I'm glad that someone noticed...


Team of the tournament
Sunday 23 June 2002
Throughout the final week of the FIFA World Cup, uefa.com's reporting team in Korea and Japan will be selecting their teams of the tournament, while users will get their chance to vote for their own selection from Monday. Today, Paul Nixon reveals his chosen few



Germany's Oliver Kahn
(©empics)


The 2002 World Cup has so far produced so few individual stars that picking a best XI was a tough assignment. Eventually, after endless hours of chopping and changing, I have settled on what I believe to be the best eleven players in this topsy-turvy tournament. I've opted for a blend of youth and experience and you may be surprised to find no Brazilian players in there.

Goalkeeper:

Oliver Kahn, Germany
Once again, the model of consistency. You could probably count the number of blunders he has made in his seven-year career on the fingers of one hand. As Germany head into the semi-finals, much praise will be heaped upon the FC Bayern München keeper who has impressed all and sundry with his shot-stopping and organisational abilities. At 33, Kahn is still a cut above the rest. Other goalkeepers to impress during the finals were the United States' Brad Friedel, Mexico's Oscar Pérez and the Korean Republic's penalty-saving hero Lee Woon Jae.

Defence:



Japan defender Tsuneyasu Miyamoto
(©EMPICS 2002)


Christoph Metzelder, Germany
Another German player who has proved to be worth his salt - and then some. The BV Borussia Dortmund centre-back was a late addition to Rudi Völler's squad but has been a towering inspiration in the absence of Jens Nowotny. Remarkably, Metzelder was still playing in Germany's third division with Preussen Münster two seasons ago but is now a fixture in the 1. Bundesliga. Impressive displays, both physical and tactical, against the Republic of Ireland and Cameroon make the 21-year-old an indispensable commodity for the future.

Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, Japan
Japan's captain and leader played a key role in his country's progress to the second round of the World Cup. While the likes of Hidetoshi Nakata and Junichi Inamoto were heralded for their attacking displays, Miyamoto worked hard to organise the Japanese rearguard and was a rock at the heart of the defence, despite lacking in height and physical strength. Forced to wear a black facemask after breaking his nose, the distinctive Gamba Osaka player has made a name for himself in the J-League and has now transferred his domestic form onto the world stage.



England's revelation in midfield, Nicky Butt
(©empics)


Rio Ferdinand, England
The Leeds United AFC centre-back, the most expensive defender in the world, finally proved his world-class status in England's journey to the quarter finals. His colossal display in the group-stage victory over Argentina showed that he possesses both a great understanding of the game and all the skills and confidence of a midfield player. A natural leader at the heart of an impressive back four, the comparisons with the great Bobby Moore may not be too far off the mark. Also scored his first international goal in the 3-0 victory over Denmark.

Midfield:



Christian Vieri - Italy's "secret weapon"
(©empics)


Nicky Butt, England
Another of England's success stories in the Far East, Butt was brought into the starting eleven to replace the injured Steven Gerrard. He cemented his role in coach Sven-Göran Eriksson's first-team plans with excellent performances against Argentina and Denmark, and his partnership with Paul Scholes was one of the high points for his country. Despite acting as understudy for much of his career, for both Manchester United FC and England, Butt was not found wanting when called upon to show his strengths as a tough-tackling central midfield player.

Milan Rapaic, Croatia
The 28-year-old was undoubtedly Croatia's star performer in an otherwise uninspiring tournament for the team that finished third at France 98. The Fenerbahçe SK player can handle the physical side of the game, but also possesses a delicate touch to boot. His performance as a substitute against Mexico earned him a start against Italy, where he proved to be the hero of the hour with the winning goal in a memorable 2-1 victory. While the likes of Robert Prosinecki and Davor Šuker struggled to rediscover their best form, Rapaic, equally happy on the left flank or in the centre, was a joy to watch.

Henri Camara, Senegal
There have not been many better right-wingers in the tournament than Senegal's flying Camara. Despite being only 25, the CS Sedan-Ardennes player has already had successful spells at club level in both France and Switzerland. He was also one of the leading lights for his country as they shocked the footballing world with a fairytale run to the quarter-finals. Blessed with pace, trickery and power, Camara also found his scoring touch at the finals and scored both Senegal's goals in their second-round encounter with Sweden. His understanding with striker El Hadji Diouf and ability to beat his man make him one to watch for the future.

Ramón Morales, Mexico
Detailed to supply the ammunition for the likes of Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Jared Borgetti, Morales is one of the best left-sided midfield players around. Hardly a household name before the finals, the 26-year-old CD Guadalajara player soon showed his worth with displays of pace and athleticism against the likes of Croatia and Ecuador. Having only made his international debut eleven months ago at the Copa America, Morales repaid coach Javier Aguirre's faith with his superb crossing ability and could often be seen leaving bamboozled defenders in his wake.

Marc Wilmots, Belgium
The first name on my teamsheet and, in my humble opinion, the tournament's best player by a country kilometre. His versatility proved to be the key for Belgium as they reached the second round, only to fall to Brazil. It is rare to find an attacking midfield player who will support the forward line in one move and be back in his own half to defend the next. At the age of 33, Wilmots still possesses an engine that many players a decade younger would kill for. His three goals in three Group H games made him Belgium's top scorer in World Cup history.

Attack:

Miroslav Klose, Germany
Who in their right mind would have laid money on the young 1. FC Kaiserslautern striker winning the Golden Boot at this year's finals? - especially at odds of 125-1. Certainly not me, but the 24-year-old opened his World Cup account with a hat-trick against Saudi Arabia and has never looked back. The slightly-built forward has pace and a fierce shot in his locker but has scored his five goals - making him joint-top scorer with Brazil's Rivaldo and Ronaldo - with his head. Quite an achievement for a players many were referring to as 'Miroslav who?' before the tournament began.

Christian Vieri, Italy
The 28-year-old Internazionale FC striker proved to be Giovanni Trapattoni's secret weapon as Italy reached the second round, only to lose - somewhat unfortunately - to co-hosts Korea. With much expected of Filippo Inzaghi, Francesco Totti and Vincenzo Montella, the confident and robust Vieri weighed in with four goals in as many games and was a constant thorn in his opponents' side. Perhaps the most impressive attribute in Bobo's repertoire was his work ethic and, while always in the right place at the right time to score, his teamwork and defensive qualities were a pleasure to behold.

Nixon XI (formation 3-5-2)
Kahn, Metzelder, Ferdinand, Miyamoto, Butt, Rapaic, Morales, Camara, Wilmots, Klose, Vieri.
 

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ludilo brale, ludilo!

Miki was definitely our best player.

Hope he continues playing like that for the NT. Prior to the WC he showed very little on the international stage.
 

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Miki faco !!

Good call, I'd have him among the best
 

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Yes Miki was our best player, good for him!

My computer crashed sometime last week and I'm not gonna bother fixing it until at least September since summer's here.

Everybody have a good summer!
 

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Take it easy IVO :)
 
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