Magnificent Maradona, Tiger-spotting Paris...

The A-Z guide, completed

 The second part of the World Cup’s A-Z:

* M: Maradona. Diego was the biggest personality of the tournament. With his beard, snazzy suit and heart-on-the-sleeve touchline theatrics, he managed as a coach to emulate his role as a player by always being the centre of attention.

* N: Name. A new one on the trophy. Eighty years, 19 tournaments and, until Sunday, only seven names on the winners’ list.

* O: Overhyped. Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kaka, Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba -- the men who were scripted to light up the tournament all fluffed their lines.

* P: Paul. An unlikely name for an octopus but it was an unlikely sub-plot as the German-based cephalopod proved an uncanny predictor of results. When it went for Spain ahead of the semifinal, Germany fell into a depression.

* Q: Questions. Many thousands get asked at the hundreds of news conferences held during the tournament. Some induced deep and meaningful insight, others were brusquely brushed away. The odd one produced a bemused silence, such as this from a female Chinese TV journalist ahead of Portugal's game against North Korea: "Mr Ronaldo, I have read that you have not played very well for Portugal for nearly two years and that you cannot score a goal. Now that Lionel Messi has scored (he had not), will you score tomorrow?"

* R: Revolution. Another French one and heads rolled again. This time, it was the Federation boss who faced the metaphorical guillotine after the players revolted in support of Nicolas Anelka after the striker abused departing coach Raymond Domenech and refused to apologise.

* S: Sneijder, Wesley. Italian league and Cup double, Champions League title, five goals at the World Cup, four man-of-the-match performances -- just one to go for the man making Netherlands tick to cap a year of achievement beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

* T: Tiger. Allegedly spotted by Paris Hilton -- according to her ‘tweets’ -- while visiting a South African game reserve.

* U: Upsets. Italy and France, winners and runners-up from 2006, not only went out in the first round but both finished bottom of their groups -- an astonishing turnaround for the game's two superpowers.

* V: Vuvuzela. It could have been for violence but there was barely any as pre-tournament horror stories proved unfounded. Violence to the ears, however, was relentless, thanks to the Vuvuzela. African-made it may be, but its relentless din succeeded in destroying any reflection of the state of the game via the usual crowd noise and created a surreal atmosphere.

* W: ‘Wembley Goal’. It took 44 years but Germany finally got revenge for Geoff Hurst's ‘was it over the line?’ goal in the 1966 final. Such goals have since been christened ‘Wembley goals’ by Germans. Frank Lampard's shot was just about the only memorable contribution made by England, but at least shook FIFA out of its refusal to investigate goalline technology.

* X: Xavi, or should it be Xabi Alonso? Both midfield maestros refused to wilt under pressure, maintaining their astonishing pass-completion rate even when it seemed to be taking Spain nowhere. In the end, the gaps always appeared.

* Y: Yellow. The colours of Bafana Bafana were ubiquitous throughout South Africa as the fans turned out in huge numbers to back their nation, particularly at the Fan Zones, one of the biggest successes of the tournament.

* Z: The row of seats most of Lionel Messi's goal attempts ended up in.
(Concluded)

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