Germany are champions of the world again after snatching victory against Argentina in the soccer showpiece with a superb extra-time goal from baby-faced Mario Goetze to lift the trophy for the first time since 1990.
Hatched from the agony of their recent near-misses, Germany's triumph secured a fourth World Cup title - their first since the country was reunited 24 years ago - with a nail-biting 1-0 win in Sunday's final at the sprawling Maracana.
The win, sealed by substitute Goetze's brilliantly taken strike in the 113th minute, marked the first time a European country had won the sport's greatest prize in the Americas, although this World Cup was ultimately a triumph for all.
"We have been together for 55 days but the work started 10 years ago with (former national team manager) Juergen Klinsmann," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.
"We did everything to experience this day. The team really deserved it. No one deserved it more than us."
The Argentina team, their homeland still recovering from a crippling debt crisis, were brave in defeat and with a bit more luck might well have won the greatest prize in sport.
They squandered a string of chances but lost no admirers in a match that was full of end-to-end action and unrelenting tension over two hours.
"I am very proud. The boys played an extraordinary World Cup," said Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella.
"Over and above the pain of a defeat, they can look each other in the eye, they can look in the mirror and know they gave their all for Argentina."
Hosts Brazil did not make the final, finishing fourth as they buckled under the weight of expectation with two humbling losses, including a 7-1 semi-final thrashing by Germany, but never has the samba nation shone so brightly on the world stage.
Magnanimous in defeat, Brazil proved all the doubters wrong by delivering a World Cup in which some breathtaking action on the pitch was matched only by the contagious carnival atmosphere that infected everyone in the country from the favelas to the golden sands of Copacabana Beach and the jungles of the Amazon.
Brazilians put aside their complaints about the $11 billion price tag by embracing the month-long tournament, welcoming thousands of visitors to their home in a spectacular dress rehearsal for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The finals set a host of records for global television audiences and social media activity, with even the United States President