Prince Poldi crowned Gillette Best Young Player
6 July 2006
The FIFA Technical Study Group has made its decision, bestowing Germany's Lukas Podolski with the coveted Gillette Best Young Player award. Selected from a shortlist of six talented nominees, the striker becomes the first Gillette Best Young Player award winner in the history of the FIFA World Cup™.
Germany enjoyed a thrilling FIFA World Cup journey on home soil, achieving a place in the semi-finals few felt confident of predicting before the tournament began. A joy to watch as they poured forward in attack, the hosts owed much of their success to the fearsome strike duo of Miroslav Klose and Podolski. Junior partner Podolski, at 21, was one of 40 candidates competing for the title of Gillette Best Young Player.
"I'm very honoured," said Podolski as he received the prize. "Of course this is a big motivation for myself to keep on improving in my career and to play a even better World Cup in four years' time even though I had hoped to take a different trophy home."
An integral part of Jurgen Klinsmann's starting line-up, 'Prince Poldi' already boasts a tally of 15 goals in 31 games for his country. An impressive haul for one so young, over the course of this FIFA World Cup Podolski has demonstrated time and time again that he thrives under pressure.
"He not only scored three goals, he was a key element in Germany's attack," explained Holger Osieck, Head of the FIFA Technical Study Group. "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."
The Polish-born German put in perhaps his strongest performance against Sweden in the Round of 16, firing in a brace to cap a display of tireless front-running. Facing Argentina in the quarter-finals, the youngster once again gave everything. The Bayern Munich-bound forward demonstrated real character in what was an extremely tight encounter, not least when he coolly converted from the spot during the penalty shoot-out.
Having scored against Ecuador in the first round, Podolski currently has three goals to his name and will be looking to bolster his account in the match for third place against Portugal on Saturday.
His youth may have caused him to snap at a few chances along the way, but ‘Poldi’ undoubtedly possesses remarkable maturity for a 21-year-old. However, his greatest attributes have to be his boundless energy and hunger for success. "Another factor we considered was how much playing-time he saw," added Osieck. "He started all the games and was only substituted after scoring twice against Sweden and right at the end of the Poland match."
Indeed, his statistics bear out his considerable contribution to the host nation's cause: 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," concluded Osiek. "Podolski still has a lot to learn but he is clearly a player with a great future."
They made a good choice.