World Player of the Week: Homare Sawa - Japan

Join in saluting another player worthy of global recognition, this time a woman who inspired her country to an historic World Cup achievement in her swansong tournament
Welcome to's regular feature: World Player of the Week. Each week our worldwide team of editors will put forward a selected candidate, as chosen by International, who deserves recognition for achieving something special that matchday. It won't necessarily be the best player in the world - at least not usually - but whoever we nominate will have done something amazing. It might be for a particularly awesome performance or for something praiseworthy off the pitch - either way, the person in question deserves special attention... World Player of the Week #113: Homare Sawa
 INAC Kobe Leonessa   
Inspired Japan to Women’s World Cup triumph

The 32-year-old was the most influential player in Japan’s victory over the USA in the final of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday. Sawa was at the heart of her team's creative moves and rose above the American defence late in extra-time to score the equaliser, which saw the game finish in a 2-2 draw after 120 minutes - the Asian nation then won the penalty shootout 3-1.

In the semi-finals, too, Sawa found the target against Sweden in the Asian nation's comfortable 3-1 victory and netted a sensational hat-trick against Mexico in a 4-0 triumph in the group stage to take Japan to the last eight.

Sawa, who is the skipper of her team, went on to collected the Golden Boot, having scored five goals in the competition. She was also adjudged to be the best player of the tournament, picking up the Golden Ball.

Speaking after the match to, Sawa expressed her delight and enthused: “It's absolutely great to win all these trophies. But they're not for me. The team played so much of a part in me winning these awards that I can't really take any personal pride in receiving them.”

She added: “[I dedicate this victory] To my parents, particularly my mother. After we reached the final, she flew all the way to Germany to watch the game today. I feel really grateful to my mother and I want to dedicate it to both of my parents."

Congratulations to Homare Sawa,'s 113th World Player of the Week!

Honourable Mentions

Nestor Muslera - Uruguay

The Lazio goalkeeper was in sensational form against Argentina in the quarter-finals of the Copa America. Muslera made a brilliant double save from Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain in the final minute of normal time, and also stopped Tevez’s penalty kick in the shootout to send Uruguay through, 5-4 on penalties.

Juan Fernando Arango - Venezuela

The Venezuela captain assisted both goals against Chile as they ran out 2-1 winners against much-fancied opposition. He rarely misplaced a pass and was a menace to the Chile defenders throughout a famous win for his nation.

Juan Manuel Vargas - Peru

The Fiorentina winger was in inspiring form for Peru throughout their 2-0 extra-time victory over Colombia in the quarter-finals of the Copa America. Vargas created chances for his team-mates, played a role in the first goal and lashed home the second in extra-time to seal the win.

Aurelien Collin - Sporting KC

Managed to rile up not one but two Houston Dynamo players into dirty tackles (Colin Clark with an unnecessary two-footed lunge, Brian Ching with a cruel kick from behind once the ball was gone) and subsequent red cards. Then he scored a long-range deflected shot in the last minute of play to earn Sporting KC a 1-1 draw in Texas.

Leave your notes of congratulations for Homare Sawa below, or discuss who else deserves a place in the spotlight this week...