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World Cup 2010: 10 Years Later

Written by: Massimo Cipriano

Pain, passion, drama, and controversy are all words fitting for the South African edition of the World Cup in 2010. Although ten years have passed since the tournament, there are so many memories that sit so fondly in the minds of fans across the world as if it happened yesterday. In this list, we look back and reflect upon some of the most memorable aspects of the 2010 World Cup that will be talked about for decades to come.

10. Jabulani: A Great Ball of Disappointment

The new African scene for the World Cup did not come without its share of controversial features. For starters, the official ball, the Jabulani (translates to “celebrate” in Zulu) was not well-celebrated among the goalkeepers in the cup. The Jabulani was a smooth, nearly seamless ball, but that would actually be the root to many of its problems. The Jabulani was, ironically, too round and smooth of a ball to move in the air with proper spin and symmetry. Iker Casillas went on to compare the Jabulani to a beach ball, and the Jabulani would go down as one of the biggest failures in our recent memory.

(Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/ Reuters)

9. Diego Forlan’s Stellar Tournament

Diego Forlan put on a show in South Africa, taking Uruguay on a deep, drama-filled run that finished with a surprising semi-final visit. He was a constant presence on the pitch, using his silky touches and dribbling and incisive crossing and set-pieces to open up the opposing defense. Forlan netted five goals in the tournament, including a free kick against Ghana in the quarter-finals, a long-range snipe in the semi-finals against the Netherlands, and a screaming volley in the third place match against Germany. Forlan earned the Golden Ball, given to the best player of the tournament, and his performance in South Africa will be remembered among the greatest.

(Photo: CNN.com)

8. Italy Bounce Out

2010 was the beginning of an interesting trend, where the previous champion would make a surprising early exit in the group phase. The first victim of these victims was Italy, who entered South Africa fresh off of a World Cup victory four years earlier. Their group seemed quite manageable, with matches against Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia seeming like bumps in the road on the way to another deep title run. However, the Azzurri failed to get a single win out of these fixtures, and finished the group stage in last place with a mere two points. Italy has not since recovered, failing to escape Group D in 2014 and missing the tournament in 2018.

(Photo: BBC Sport)

7. Vuvuzelas Generate The Wrong Buzz

You either loved or hated the vuvuzela, the instruments that added constant noise to each World Cup broadcast. Arguments against them came from a variety of angles, with some suggesting that they could obstruct player-communication, cause lack of concentration and create rest deprivation. Others, fans and players alike were enraged by how blatantly annoying they were. The vuvuzela did have its share of stardom, though, with kids (including myself) getting a personal vuvuzela to blare around the house. However, the stardom was short-lived, as FIFA was sure to ban the vuvuzela for the next tournament in Rio. Although it’s time in the spotlight wasn’t very long, the vuvuzela will always be synonymous with the World Cup in South Africa.

(Photo: John Hrusa)

6. Robert Green’s Infamous Blunder

The excitement and buzz for a fresh hack at the World Cup was at full capacity for England, who were looking for a strong start to the tournament in their first match against the United States. They even got off to a thunderous start, with captain Steven Gerrard slotting a fourth minute goal against a pedestrian American defense. Everything seemed great for the Three Lions, until their roll came to a crash and burn 36 minutes later in the most unexpected fashion. In the 40th minute, Clint Dempsey took a slow-rolling shot that should have easily been saved by goalkeeper Robert Green, or so we thought. The ball somehow escaped his gloves, and trickled into the back of the net past outstretched arms that would symbolize failure. Fabio Capello got his team going again, but had to leave Green behind, who was replaced by David James for the remainder of the tournament. England managed to qualify for the knockout rounds, but the worst of their drama was yet to come.

(Photo: Darren Staples/ Reuters)


It’s just one name, but it has such a powerful memory attached to it. Any doubters of South Africa serving as a suitable host for the summer festivities were quickly silenced in the opening match. South Africa faced Mexico, in a match where the balance would be expected to swing in the favor of El Tri. However, the home-crowd advantage did South Africa a wonder and they were putting on a show. In the 55th minute of the match, they went on a blazing counter attack that found Siphiwe Tshabalala sending an absolute rocket to the top right corner of Mexico’s net. Peter Drury’s commentary was truly iconic, as well as the choreographed celebration by Tshabalala and his teammates. As Drury said, Tshabalala’s goal was one for “all of Africa.”

(Photo: The Sunday Times)

4. Landon Donovan’s Stoppage Time Miracle

In a time where the circumstances were the most dire for the United States, Landon Donovan rose to the occasion and carried the nation on his back. A win against Algeria in their final match in Group C was a necessity in order for them to advance. Their chances of that goal being realized became increasingly slim as a goalless draw persisted into the waning minutes of the match. However, Landon Donovan was determined to fulfill the unwritten script (Ian Darke’s commentary gem) and used every last bit of energy to rebound the ball into the Algeria net in stoppage time. It truly seemed like Donovan came out of nowhere, and all of a sudden, the United States were through to the knockout stage.

(Photo: Simon Bruty/ Sports Illustrated)

3. Suarez Plays Goalkeeper

(Photo: FIFA.com)

Before “the bite” at Liverpool, Luis Suarez revealed his villainous intentions to the world in Uruguay’s quarter-final match against Ghana. In probably the best game of the tournament, Sulley Muntari and Diego Forlan traded wonder-goals that kept the score level at 1-1 coming into extra time. It seemed like Ghana had broken the draw in the waning seconds of play, as a scramble ensued in front of the Uruguay net that saw shots ricocheted like a pinball machine. Finally, the pandemonium came to a screeching halt when a header by Dominic Adiyiah was kept out of the net by the hands of Luis Suarez. Suarez was given a direct red card, and was at the brink of tears as Assomoah Gyan was 12 yards from sending Ghana to the semi-finals. However, Gyan pinged the ball off the crossbar, which had Suarez jumping for joy like a child on the Uruguay sideline. The match went to a penalty shootout, and Uruguay edged Ghana out of the tournament. Suarez’s devious maneuvers worked for Uruguay, but the elated look on his face made him so hateable.

(Photo: AFP)

2. Iniesta Finishes Off Spain’s Cup of Dreams

(Photo: AMA/ Corbis/ Getty Images)

All eyes were on Spain in the 2010 Final, who were looking to confirm the whispers of global supremacy that surrounded their team. However, clinching the Cup would not come without the drama that is characteristic of the Mundial. Spain was in a deadlock against the Netherlands in Johannesburg, as neither side was able to find the winning goal in regulation. In the depths of extra time, an unlikely hero emerged and gave Spain the goal they needed. While Andres Iniesta was not the expected goal scorer in Spain’s moment of the ages, he sure did score a beautiful goal. He sent his team, the crowd, and the world into chaos as the trophy was at Spain’s fingertips. Spain deservedly hoisted the trophy after an astonishing World Cup, and the winning squad will be looked back upon as one of the greatest national teams to ever play.

(Jamie McDonald/ Getty Images)

1. “Surely That Was In.”

(Photo: Cameron Spencer/ Getty Images)

It was what we were all thinking on June 27, 2010. How did Jorge Larrionda fail to award the goal to Frank Lampard? Lampard lifted the ball beyond Manuel Neuer and off the crossbar, which sent it bouncing downward and back up again until Neuer snatched it from its course. The ball obviously crossed the goal-line, but the referee just seemed to miss this crucial moment. The goal would’ve levelled the match at 2 goals apiece between Germany and England in their crucial round of 16 match. However, the match remained at 2-1, and Germany used their second half momentum to score two more against the disheveled England side. England exited South Africa as infuriated as we would imagine, with a bunch of unanswered questions that would never be satisfied. Lampard’s unawarded goal was undoubtedly the most monumental occurrence in officiating history, and would go on to set the tone for officiating for the decade following. If the VAR and goal-line technology that exists today, existed on June 27, 2010, would we be telling a different story?

(Photo: Joern Pollex/ Getty Images)

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