Winning the ultimate prize can ease pain of defeat in May
And should captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst lift the infamous trophy before the Oranje fans in Johannesburg on Sunday, it will signal a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Arjen Robben and Mark van Bommel who suffered Champions League heartache in May - whilst it would cap a fantastic season for European cup winner Wesley Sneijder.
In anticipation of what should be another mouth-watering finale, Goal.com UK looks back at some of the notable Champions League and World Cup final stories...
Swings and RoundaboutsAfter the Bayern Munich pair were beaten finalists in the Champions League back in May, when Inter clinched the trophy with a 2-0 victory in the Bernabeu, the Dutch duo can transform their fortunes dramatically by lifting the World Cup trophy on Sunday.
Such an accomplishment conjures up memories of Juventus pair Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane, when, back in 1998, they suffered the same heartbreak at the hands of Real Madrid in Europe’s pinnacle club contest.
The pair then went on to win the World Cup the following summer, with Zidane scoring a brace as Deschamps captained his side to a 3-0 victory over Brazil in Paris, despite being down to ten men following Marcel Desailly’s dismissal.
But for Real Madrid's Christian Karembeu, the summer of 1998 presented a double triumph. Having secured the European Cup with the Madrid outfit, Karembeu was also a World Cup winner with France.
You Ger-manNonetheless, six of Bayern Munich’s legendary side of the mid-seventies recorded a treble in 1974.
Having won the German championship, Franz Beckenbauer led his club and international team-mates Sepp Maier, Paul Breitner, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeneß to European Cup success with a 4-0 replay victory over Atletico Madrid, before defeating Holland 2-1 in the World Cup final.
This was the first time anyone had lifted both European club and international football's highest honours in the same season.
But Breitner would experience double barrelled heartbreak six years later. Captaining Bayern Munich to the 1982 European Cup, the German side lost 1-0 to Tony Barton’s Aston Villa side in the final.
Breitner and team-mate Karl-Heinz Rummenigge would then make it to the final of World Cup that summer in Spain, but lost 3-1 to a Paolo Rossi-inspired Italian side.
In USA 1994, Italy, under the guile of influential star Roberto Baggio, headed to the World Cup final full of confidence, reaching the final and taking on Brazil in one of the more iconic finals.
Romario's last laugh
Romario's last laugh
Lining-up for the Italians were four of Fabio Capello’s European Champions, with Demetrio Albertini, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Donadoni and Daniele Massaro having all starred in AC Milan’s crushing 4-0 victory over Barcelona in Athens.
However, it would be Barca’s Brazilian striker Romario who would have the last laugh. The South Americans won 3-2 on penalties, and while the Selecao ace bagged his penalty, Massaro, who had scored a brace in the Greek capital for AC, missed his.
Lucio relief in Carlos-al win
In the final of the 2002 World Cup, hosted by Japan and South Korea, Bayern Leverkusen quartet Carsten Ramelow, Bernd Schneider, Oliver Neuville and Lúcio were hoping to put to rest the ghosts from their Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid (2-1). Michael Ballack would also have featured had he not been booked in the semi-final and subsequently suspended for the grand finale.
And once more it was the Brazilians who triumphed, with Lucio, who had scored in Leverkusen’s defeat to Real, winning the World Cup alongside Roberto Carlos, who like former Madrid star Karembeu, succeeded in winning both competitions following his disappointment in France 98, beating Germany 2-0.
2006 brought about another double heartache of final defeats. Having lost the Champions League final with Arsenal following Barcelona’s 2-1 victory over Arsene Wenger’s side, Thierry Henry would have hoped that his France side could have continued their run of international success, following their World Cup triumph in '98, and European title from 2002.
But it would be Marcelo Lippi’s Azzurri that would lift the coveted trophy, defeating Raymond Domenech’s France 5-3 on penalties, in a match which featured Zidane’s red card following his infamous head butt on Marco Materazzi.
Simply the Wes?
Despite the aforementioned success stories, none would top the potential achievements of Wesley Sneijder, should the Netherlands claim the 2010 World Cup.
Having already achieved a domestic treble with Inter, triumphing in the Coppa Italia, Serie A and this season’s Champions League, the Oranje star is also level with Spain’s David Villa in the race for the Golden boot, having scored five goals so far in South Africa.
And should the Dutch wizard claim both honours this summer, he’ll surely be a nailed-on winner of this year’s Ballon d'Or.