At every World Cup since 1982, FIFA has put together a shortlist from which accredited journalists choose the best player of the tournament.
The previous winners are:
1982 Spain: Paolo Rossi (Italy)
1986 Mexico: Diego Maradona (Argentina)
1990 Italy: Salvatore Schillaci (Italy)
1994 USA: Romario (Brazil)
1998 France: Ronaldo (Brazil
2002 Korea/Japan: Oliver Kahn (Germany)
2006 Germany: Zinedine Zidane (France)
This year's nominees for the adidas Golden Ball trophy are:
Diego Forlan (URU), Asamoah Gyan (GHA), Andres Iniesta (ESP), Lionel Messi (ARG), Mesut Oezil (GER), Arjen Robben (NED), Bastian Schweinsteiger (GER), Wesley Sneijder (NED), David Villa (ESP), Xavi (ESP)
I'm not sure what Messi is doing on that list; like the other 'world stars' Ronaldo and Rooney, I was underwhelmed by his performances, other than a few flashes of brilliance. But to make him one of the top 10 players of the tournament is bowing to his reputation not the reality of the tournanment I've been watching! I think his spot should have gone to Thomas Mueller of Germany - 4 goals in 5 games (he was suspended for the semifinal defeat) for a young midfielder is more impressive than Lionel Messi's contribution.
My top 3:
Bronze - Thomas Mueller - Germany. His drive, energy and goals were the driving force behind Germany's surprise progess - his absence in the semifinal due to a poor refereeing decision in the QF was noticable as the German team lacked the spark of previous games.
Silver - Diego Forlan - Uruguay - It was a shame Sir Alex let him leave Man Utd a few years ago; without doubt his country's MVP at the World Cup, Forlan was the main reason Uruguay surpassed all expectations. After some truly dreadful free-kicks by other long range 'specialists' at the tournament, Forlan has shown the world how to strike and get the best out of the Jubulani ball.
Gold - David Villa - Spain - I used to be a striker, so maybe I'm biased, but goals win games and Villa has scored 5 of Spain's 7 goals in the competition so far. 3 of his goals came in 1-0 wins, which has made him a match-winner on three occasions. Villa is also going head to head with Wesley Sneijder for the Golden Boot as the World Cup's top scorer, after winning a similar accolade in the Euro 2008 final.
I would be interested to know your thoughts...