The world’s best freestyle footballers rocked London’s Roundhouse at the Red Bull Street Style World Final on Tuesday. Carlos Alberto Iacono of Argentina tricked his way to the men’s World Championship and Mélody Donchet of France claimed the women's title.
Iacono had finished second in the previous two editions of the event but managed to get the monkey off his back in a thrilling final battle against Japan’s Kosuke Takahashi in front of the five judges. Anatoliy Yanchev of Russia earned third, but Donchet claimed much of the limelight in the arena with a performance that secured her second consecutive title and brought the sport to a whole new level.
Watch a replay of the three-minute matches now
The cheers were deafening for guest judge Gary Neville, a Manchester United legend – and the volume only kept rising. London’s football-loving fans were wildly appreciative as male freestylers from 16 nations delivered jaw-dropping tricks and transitions with more all-around mastery than ever, narrowing the field in head-to-head showdowns. Determined not to be the runner-up again, in the final bout Iacono delivered the technical moves he’s famed for and sealed victory with one of the hardest handstand tricks ever seen, juggling the ball flawlessly on his calf.
“After losing several times, I was discouraged. But my heart told me you have to try again”– Carlos Alberto Iacono
“It’s like when you start in this sport – sometimes you don't get a trick on the first try. And that’s the spirit of freestyle; you keep trying. I wanted to prove I could win, and I did it.”
The women's final was a gripping face-off between Donchet and Poland’s Aguśka Mnich. The French freestyler had seemed to give her all in defeating her longtime rival – double World Final champion Kitti Szász of Hungary – in the semi-finals. But her experience really came to the fore in her confident performance against Aguska, with seamless transitions from standing to sitdown tricks and back up again. Another Polish athlete, Kalina Matysiak, also impressed, joining the podium in third.
Red Bull Street Style is the official World Championship of freestyle football. Brought to you in partnership with with F3, the Freestyle Football Federation, it's a global competition that aims to find the best overall player.
Men’s Top Four at Red Bull Street Style World Final 2016
1. Carlos Alberto Iacono (Argentina)
2. Kosuke Takahashi (Japan)
3. Anatoliy Yanchev (Russia)
4. Esteban Hernández Acosta (Mexico)
Women’s Top Four at Red Bull Street Style World Final 2016
1. Mélody Donchet (France)
2. Aguśka Mnich (Poland)
3. Kalina Matysiak (Poland)
4. Kitti Szász (Hungary)