In the midst of the 2014 World Cup, heroes were made.
Applause reverberated around the stadium in Fortaleza for James Rodriguez following Colombia's quarter-final defeat to Brazil, and USA's Tim Howard found himself trending around the globe following his record-breaking performance against Belgium in the round of 16, as reported by the Daily Mail.
But who are the unsung heroes of this year's World Cup and what impact did they have? Who are the teams, players and moments that match reports won't remember but fans will?
Giving them each their moment in the spotlight—and deservedly so—here are the unsung heroes of the tournament. May this article serve to cement their rightful place in football history.
According to a media release from FIFA on June 5, 2014, "2,961,911 tickets have been sold" for the World Cup.
But whilst this number alone is impressive, it's really the quality of the fans as a whole that warrants this first mention, and no fanbase embodies this more than Team USA.
That's because, amazingly, 196,838 Americans bought tickets and made the journey to Brazil, making them the most supported international team of the tournament. Plus, many argue, the most passionately supported, citing Mike D'Amico—better known as his alter ego Teddy Goalsevelt—as the best example, as reported by ABC News.
But if globally travelling devoted supporters and a resurrected American president are not enough, how about Japanese supporters who, following their 2-1 defeat to the Ivory Coast, stayed behind to clean the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, as reported by Yahoo Sports?
For these reasons, and more featured later, the fans of the World Cup are among the top unsung heroes.
The only thing that epitomises footballing passion more than Teddy Goalsevelt is the plethora of creative goal celebrations that took place on Brazilian soil this summer.
It began as Colombia's Pablo Armero put his team 1-0 ahead against Greece in their opening game of Group C, only then to orchestrate a team dance-off.
This then paved the way for Robin van Persie's missed high-five with Louis van Gaal and Ghana's equally impressive team celebration against Germany which collectively inspired a video montage from the BBC.
But it's the exploits of Mexico's coach Miguel Herrera that secured goal celebrations a place among the unsung heroes of the World Cup.
Remembering his brilliance in pictures, The Guardian claim he's "been one of the stars of the tournament, with his antics on the touchline making him a firm favourite with neutral fans."
It's official—the World Cup set new records on social media. More specifically, it was Germany's 7-1 victory over Brazil that generated 35.6 million tweets, making it the most discussed sporting event in Twitter history.
Fuelled by a running commentary from Rihanna and her 32.6 million followers—as reported by MTV—the social success of Germany's thrashing of Brazil was capped off by a celebratory selfie from Lukas Podolski.
The game even managed to dethrone the previous king of social media Tim Howard who had been trending worldwide with the hashtag #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave after his heroics against Belgium.
This also inspired a collage of the best Tim Howard memes from the Huffington Post, and according to Pop Watch, the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America was even changed on Wikipedia to read Tim Howard.
For all of these reasons, social media is undoubtedly an unsung hero of this year's tournament.
It came in many forms—both on and off the pitch—but sportsmanship was undoubtedly an unsung hero of this year’s tournament.
One particular moment epitomised this when David Luiz and Daniel Alves led a stadium in applause for James Rodriguez—as reported by the NBC Sports—following Colombia's exit from the tournament.
But the most memorable moment of the World Cup—and arguably the biggest unsung hero—involves a Brazilian grandad called Clovis Fernandes.
As his team bowed out of the tournament in a 7-1 defeat to Germany, images of Clovis clutching a trophy replica were plastered across the TV and internet.
According to Hollywood Reporter, he's been attending World Cups since 1990 and has travelled to more than 60 countries to watch Brazil play.
But it’s what he did after his team's crushing defeat that truly makes him a hero. Turning to a German supporter, he handed them the trophy and said: "Take it to the final! As you can see, it is not easy, but you deserve it. Congratulations."
In summary, you won't find any of their names engraved on a trophy nor are many of these moments destined to be immortalised in the history books.
But they made the FIFA 2014 World Cup what it was.
So, if by any chance Teddy Goalsevelt, Clovis Fernandes or any of the blue samurai supporters are reading this, thank you.
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