|The first world cup in Africa gave rise to a refreshing and positive image of the continent [EPA]
The world’s biggest sporting event came to African shores for the first time this year, bringing pride and joy to the world’s most underdeveloped continent.
As crowds cheered, the vuvuzela droned its way into the international football arena becoming an iconic feature to this year’s tournament.
The soccer world cup is always a huge global event and, for thousands of journalists the world over, a fantastic news story.
The 2010 version will leave lasting memories for millions of people the world over.
All of Africa will remember Siphiwe Tshabalala’s thunderous left-footed strike, the tournament’s opening goal, that sent a continent into euphoria.
Diego Maradona, that icon of Argentinian football and one of the world’s greatest players ever, entertained us all - albeit from the sidelines - with the great passion and fatherly attention he showered on his superstar players.
Andrés Iniesta etched his way into Spanish folklore as he scored the goal that clenched their tournament, ridding Spain of that unflattering title of being "the best side to have never won a World Cup”.
For years to come football commentators and fans will have endless debates over the merits of Uruguay's Luis Suarez’s “unsporting” behaviour when he blatantly hand balled on his team’s goal line in the dying minutes of quarter-final with Ghana, breaking Africa’s heart at the magnificent Soccer City.
Debates about the role of technology in football and, in particular, goal-line technology were reignited when Steve Lampard’s header passed Germany’s goal line but no goal was given.
And who will forget Paul the Octopus and his uncanny ability to predict match results. The two-and-a-half year old octopus died in his tank in a German aquarium this October, but his legacy as part of the 2010 World Cup will linger.
Ahead of the tournament, many observers had their doubts.
There were fears that the high crime rates in South Africa might keep foreign fans away, and it did to a degree.
In addition, the $5.87 billion dollar price tag to upgrade transport, stadiums, and airports infrastructure, was steep for a developing economy with high unemployment levels; there were also concerns that many world cup stadiums would become white elephants.
But overall, the glory, anguish, humour and surprise that characterised the 2010 FIFA World Cup place it at number 7 on our list of most important stories this year.