Johannesburg :Giovanni van Bronckhorst removed the yellow captain's armband from his left biceps and handed it to his Dutch teammate Rafael van der Vaart in the 15th minute of extra time Sunday. That ended his World Cup final, and his soccer career.
Three months before the tournament, van Bronckhorst, a 35-year-old defender, said he would retire after a 17-year career spent on the back line of some of Europe's top teams. The final was indeed van Bronckhorst's last match, but it did not end the way he had dreamed, hoisting the World Cup trophy skyward. Instead, he watched from the bench as Spain scored the only goal in a foul-marred defeat.