Germany's Podolski named top young player
German striker Lukas Podolski will not get the opportunity to win the World Cup on home soil, but he will not leave soccer's biggest spectacle empty-handed.
The 21-year-old Podolski was presented with the trophy for best young player at the World Cup on Friday, an honour some critics felt should have been bestowed upon Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.
"I would have very much liked to take another trophy home, but I'm very, very glad to have this," said Podolski, who had three goals in six matches. "It is a great honour for me to be given this award."
Germany lost in the semifinals to Italy and will play Ronaldo and his Portugal teammates in the third-place match Saturday.
Ronaldo was considered a favourite for the award going into the World Cup, along with his Manchester United teammate Wayne Rooney of England.
Ronaldo's stock took a dive, however, after his behaviour during Portugal's quarterfinal win over England.In that match, Ronaldo approached the Argentine referee andtalked to him aboutRooney after the English striker stomped on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho.
After the foul on Carvalho, Rooney shoved Ronaldo and was expelled by the referee.
For the first time, fans were able to vote on the internet for three finalists and FIFA's Technical Study Group added another three candidates. The TSG then chose the winner based primarily on technical factors, including time spent on the field and goals scored as well as the impact the players had on their respective teams.
Lionel Messi of Argentina, Ronaldo and Luis Valencia of Ecuador were the top three in fan voting, while the TSG picked Podolski, Tranquillo Barnetta of Switzerland and Cesc Fabregas of Spain. Podolski finished fourth in fan voting.
TSG chief Holger Osieck, the former head coach of the Canadian men's team, said Podolski was deserving of the award because he played a combined 565 of a possible 600 minutes for Germany and contributed important goals.
"This award is not an award to the best and most talented player, but to the [young] player who delivered the best performance in the tournament," Osieck said. "Together with [Miroslav] Klose, he [Podolski] constituted an attack duo that was to be feared and Germany was the last team playing with two strikers.
"The efficiency of the player has been taken into account and the facts here are very much in favour of Lukas Podolski."
Ronaldo played 392 minutes of Portugal's 570 minutes of match time. The speedy striker had one goal in five matches.
Osieck said he was disappointed that two of the world's top young players — Rooney and Messi — "were not able to showcase their talents and present themselves the way we had expected."
Rooney was injured to start the tournament, while Messi, at 18, was mostly used off the bench for Argentina.
The young player award goes to "the player born on or after Jan. 1, 1985, who makes the biggest impression at the FIFA World Cup."
Criteria for the award include "style, charisma, fair play and appetite for the game, as well as pure technical skill."
With files from the Associated Press