An epic tale of two heroes as the drum beats again for the beautiful game

Jeff Powell

Last updated at 00:00 01 July 2002


RONALDO wept tears of undiluted relief at his own redemption and floods of happiness for his beloved Brazil.

Oliver Kahn stood alone and inconsolable in the depth of the goal which, at the very last, he had been unable to protect.

Thus did the two candidates for every last ounce of glory resolve the momentous issues for another four years.

Thus did the World Cup of surprises end in one of the greatest football stories ever told.

Ronaldo won the Golden Boot as the tournament's highest scorer by finally breaking Kahn, the dreadnought goalkeeper who had come to challenge him for the Golden Ball as hero of the championship.

No one has managed more than seven goals in this event for 32 years. Not since German legend Gerd Muller scored a phenomenal 10 in 1970.

Ronaldo finished with eight. The lost soul of France '98 had laid his demons to rest.

From seizure to sainthood. The odyssey is complete. The Italian artisan who created this FIFA trophy in the pale yellow of pure gold knew of his craft.

Brazil are the team, the only five-time world champions after meeting and defeating their German nemesis for the first time in a finals.

This collision of Latin American and European football cultures was a minor classic.

These two nations had come to southeast Asia dogged by uncertainty. Yet by the time they reached Yokohama they had gathered themselves sufficiently to give Korea-Japan 2002 the final it deserved.

To make this possible, each team had found the strength to modify and grow.

The Germans, dour for so long, raised their sights to a higher ambition. They came out to play Brazil in a way which might beat them. Not by casting defence aside but by adding purpose and initiative.

For half an hour, no less, that was enough to make them the stronger team, even though Brazil conjured better chances.

The Brazilians, so cavalier, brought a little security. Not by betraying their romantic traditions but by building a more solid platform.

Manager Big Phil Scolari, who had rescued them from a seemingly doomed qualifying campaign by battening down the hatches tactically, had liberated their shimmering talents at the onset of the finals.

Come the stronger European nations, Scolari enforced a shotgun wedding between the Samba rhythms of his forwards and the need for discipline in defence.

If it all ends in divorce, as he says it will tomorrow morning when he heads off on holiday at the end of his contract and then in pursuit of his fortune with a wealthy club in Europe, the terms of his settlement should be considerable.

Brazil's recovery is as remarkable as Ronaldo's own. Not since 1970 have they scored in open play in the World Cup Final.

They are not yet the Brazil of the Seventies but they have given the game a final to savour at the end of a tournament to bewilder.

When Brazil rewrite history they do so by telling the familiar, enchanting story.

The name is Ronaldo.

The colour is yellow.

The game is still beautiful.

FANCY THAT

GERMANY have not won the Cup since unification in October, 1990.

 

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