JOHANNESBURG, July 12 – Uruguay striker Diego Forlan was on Sunday surprisingly awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of the 2010 World Cup.
Atletico Madrid striker Forlan grabbed five goals at the tournament as his country finished in fourth place after losing Saturday’s third-place play-off to Germany.
The former Manchester United player polled 23.4 percent of the votes awarded by media covering the tournament with Wesley Sneijder, of runners-up Holland, on 21.8 percent, and David Villa, of newly-crowned champions Spain, taking 16.9 percent.
Uruguay’s performance at the World Cup was the country’s best in 40 years.
Forlan succeeds Zinedine Zidane who was named top player of the 2006 World Cup despite his infamous red card in the final defeat to Italy.
Forlan’s victory was a surprise as five players who featured in Sunday’s final (Villa, Xavi, Andres Iniesta of Spain and Holland’s Arjen Robben and Sneijder) all figured in the list of 10 nominees.
The 31-year-old Forlan also won the Europa League last season with Atletico Madrid.
Thomas Mueller was given two reasons to celebrate after the German starlet was named Young Player of the World Cup and picked up the Golden Boot for the tournament’s top scorer.
The 20-year-old Bayern Munich forward finished the tournament with five goals, the same number as Forlan, Sneijder and Villa.
He was awarded the Golden Boot because he had supplied three assists, which was more than any of his rivals.
Mueller was elected the tournament’s outstanding young player by FIFA’s Technical Study Group, beating off competition from Ghana winger Andre Ayew and Mexican forward Giovanni dos Santos.
Spain’s Iker Casillas was voted the best goalkeeper after his side won the trophy by beating Holland 1-0 in the final.
Casillas, who twice crucially denied Robben with the score at 0-0, gets FIFA’s Golden Glove award after conceding just two goals in seven matches.
Capping a fine night for Spain was the award for fair play for having the best disciplinary record.