ITALIAN legend Fabio Cannavaro hit Sydney for the weekend's Tiger Street Soccer tournament...and saw the Germans enjoy more success than in the 2006 World Cup!
Competition ambassador Cannavaro, 39 - who skippered Italy to WC glory in 2006, including knocking Germany out in the semi-final - met fans for photographs and autographs on a whirlwind 48 hour visit to Sydney.
He had earlier brought traffic to a stop in Leichhardt where the local council shut off Norton Street in his honour and allow Fabio - nicknamed the Berlin Wall for his defensive efforts in Germany - to meet fans.
After a quick seista, Cannavaro was back in action at the Tiger Street Soccer tournament where he had a packed media schedule before enjoiying the football on display.
He joined the cage girls, acrobats, freestylers, graffiti artists and celebrities like Robbie Slater and Brenton Speed who helped entertain the big crowds at Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal.
But the five-a-side football action was the main attraction in the massive marquee covered cage where 32 teams battled it out on Saturday to be the national winners and claim a $3000 prize and a trip to Vietnam for the global grand final.
Red Dragons and Team Gaganiani faced off in the final and an early long-range strike from Red Dragons’ Ronaldo saw a 1 – 0 advantage in a cagey first half that was heavily defensive.
The pace accelerated in the second half with a goal for goal exchange seeing extra time before Rhys Giovenali saw Team Giganiani take the final 6-5 in extra time.
Team Giganiani captain Alastair Bruce revealed most of the team had to work the next day.
“It was all or nothing really," he said. "It was an incredible experience.”
The following day saw a clutch of international teams tackling the harbourside cage, with the German Street Eagles claiming the title of overall tournament winners, watched by Fabio Cannavaro.
But they were almost surprised by a shock run from a wildcard local side.
The Bangalow Hotel team, from the NSW North Coast near Byron Bay, were only admitted after several withdrawals by other more highly-fancied local sides.
They became the Cinderella team of the weekend, advancing through the rounds to beat highly fancied AJFS from Spain, while knocking over Vietnam’s Thai Son Bac along the way in a major boilover.
But they were unable to make it to the final where the Street Eagles turned on a typically precise German display to outwit a dynamic but physically outmatched Equal FC Malaysian outfit.
The Street Eagles took the final 4-3, playing the last 70 seconds with four men, when striker Buddecke was sent off with the German side leading 4-2.
Equal FC struck back with a last gasp goal but couldn’t peg back the deficit, sparking jubilant scenes from the German side, who collected $5000 in prize money.
Freestyle football wizard Rene - seen in our picture gallery getting intimate with a cage girl while showing off his ball skills - thrilled the crowd with a virtuoso performance in the decider, finding the back of the net twice, with his second precise strike ultimately proving the winner.
You can catch up with all the match action in a one hour highlights show on Fox Sports tomorrow at 7pm, Wednesday at 10.30pm or Saturday at 1pm.
We will have a full interview with Cannavaro in the July issue of Australian FourFourTwo, on sale next month.