France captain Zinédine Zidane was today named the best player of the FIFA World Cup, collecting the Golden Ball award despite his sending-off in last night's final defeat by Italy.
The playmaker stroked in his third goal of the tournament from the penalty spot in the seventh minute in Berlin, a strike cancelled out by Marco Materazzi's header in the 19th minute. Zidane was dismissed in extra time for butting the Italy defender in the chest, giving the Azzurri the impetus to win on penalties. The 34-year-old picked up the prize, voted for by journalists covering the event in Germany, ahead of Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro and his team-mate Andrea Pirlo.
Italy did receive some recognition, however, as Gianluigi Buffon claimed the Lev Yashin award for the tournament's outstanding goalkeeper, succeeding Germany's Oliver Kahn who also took the Golden Ball in 2002. Germany striker Miroslav Klose landed the Golden Shoe for finishing as the five-goal leading scorer at the finals, replicating his tally from 2002 in Korea/Japan. Brazil and Spain were the joint-winners of the FIFA Fair Play Award.
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