Lukas Podolski wins best young player award
BERLIN, July 7: Polish-born German Lukas Podolski pipped the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to land FIFA'S inaugural Gillette Best Young Player award at the World Cup today.
Apart from Podolski, Portugal's mercurial winger Ronaldo and exciting Argentine Messi were in contention for the award alongwith Ecuador's Luis Valencia, Swiss Tranquilo Barnetta and Spaniard Cesc Fabregas.
The FIFA Technical Study Group chose Podolski ahead of others, describing him as ''A joy to watch'' and pointed out that the hosts' brilliant run in the showcase tournament was largely due to Podolski's deadly combination with Miroslav Klose.
'Prince Poldi' already boasts a tally of 15 goals in 31 games for his country and Holger Osieck, Head of the FIFA Technical Study Group said, ''He not only scored three goals, he was a key element in Germany's attack.
''He showed a great understanding with Miroslav Klose and the two players formed a very effective partnership. Together, they netted eight of the Mannschaft's 11 goals,'' he added.
Against Sweden in the Round of 16, Podolski fired in a brace to cap his tireless front-running and facing Argentina in the quarter-finals, the Bayern Munich-bound forward demonstrated real character in the extremely tight encounter, coolly converting from the spot during the penalty shoot-out.
Having scored against Ecuador in the first round, Podolski has three goals to his name and he can add more in the third place match against Portugal tomorrow.
''Another factor we considered was how much playing-time he saw. He started all the games and was only substituted after scoring twice against Sweden and right at the end of the Poland match,'' Osieck said.
Statistics say in 563 minutes, Podolski struck three goals, took 21 shots and drew 15 fouls.
''Our choices are based on hard facts and how a player performs at a given tournament, the World Cup in this case. Podolski still has a lot to learn but he is clearly a player with a great future,'' concluded Osiek.