German forward Lukas Podolski has been named the young player of the World Cup by FIFA, it was announced today.
The 20-year-old has scored three goals in six matches and has the opportunity to add to his tally Saturday when Germany plays Portugal in the game for third place.
"It's just great to win an award like this," Podolski told Fifa.com. "My winning the award was all down to the team... it is a real achievement."
The award, which is available only to players 21 years old or younger, is given not only for the effectiveness and skills exhibited by the young players in the tournament, but also for whether they retained a sense of fair play.
Podolski was selected from a shortlist of six contenders. Fans that voted on the FIFA website chose three of the contenders, while FIFA chose the other three. The final decision rested with FIFA.
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo was the favorite to win the award, but his role in the red card shown to England's Wayne Rooney was a blow to his chances.
"We want to have decent behavior and I admit we were critical of this," said Holger Osieck who heads FIFA's Technical Study Group.
Ronaldo raced to the referee in the England-Portugal quarterfinal match to ensure that he was going to act upon Rooney's tangle with Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho. Rooney's subsequent shove on Ronaldo was shortly followed by a red card.
Ronaldo, who was repeatedly booed during Portugal's game with France on Wednesday, had previously led the website vote by a massive margin. However a concerted e-mail campaign by England fans to oust the Portuguese star led to his slide in the rankings.