The FIFA World Cup is considered as the pinnacle of team sport, and winning it is the stuff of dreams for every professional footballer. Footballers of great skill and talent have missed out on winning the World Cup due to several factors. Some great players did not have good enough teammates, others were simply unlucky due to injuries. In this article, we will talk about five famous footballers who did not win the World Cup.
#5 Dennis Bergkamp
“If he played in the snow, he will leave no footprints”, these are the words of John Hartson when asked about Dennis Bergkamp. On his day, Bergkamp played like a dream and no defense in the world had a chance of stopping him. He was at the peak of his powers in the 1998 World Cup and scored an unforgettable goal against Argentina in the quarter-final.
But the Dutch were knocked out in the semi-finals and did not qualify for the 2002 World Cup. By the time the 2006 World Cup came around, Bergkamp was past his best and finished his career without any International honor. Although he did not win the World Cup, he is still a revered figure in Netherlands.
#4 Oliver Kahn
One of the most aggressive characters to have ever played football, Kahn came agonizingly close to winning the World Cup in 2002. Germany reached the final, but were outplayed by a Brazil team filled with legends such as Ronaldo and Rivaldo. Kahn’s mistake in the final proved costly but he was awarded the Golden ball for his splendid performances in the World Cup.
In the 2006 World Cup, Kahn was part of the squad but Jens Lehmann took his place in the starting eleven. However, Kahn played the third-place play-off game against Portugal, which turned out to be his last game for Germany.
Belovingly called as the “Black Panther”, Eusebio still ranks among the deadliest strikers to have ever graced the game. Eusebio played only one World Cup, in 1966, and was the top scorer with 9 goals. In the final group stage fixture against Brazil, he scored two goals, which resulted in the elimination of reigning champions Brazil.
Eusebio scored four goals in the quarter-final against North Korea, and Portugal won 5-3. Playing with an injury, he struck again in the semi-final, but England won the game. Eusebio’s performances led Portugal to a third-placed finish, their best ever performance in the World Cup.
#2 Paolo Maldini
Maldini represented Italy in three different decades and had an illustrious career, albeit without World Cup success. Maldini was part of the Italy team that finished third on home soil in the 1990 World Cup. In the next World Cup, Maldini played as a center-back and sometimes a full-back and Italy finished as runners-up behind Brazil.
In the 1998 World Cup, Italy once again went out on penalties, this time to eventual champions France. Maldini rejected the proposal to play for Italy in the 2006 World Cup, which ironically was won by Italy.
#1 Johan Cruyff
When the Dutch revolutionized football in the 1974 FIFA World Cup, Cruyff was at the heart of it. He played unlike any other football of his time, as his grace and flamboyance made the entire footballing world fall in love with his style. Under his leadership, Netherlands reached the final but lost to West Germany.
However, Cruyff and his team’s unique identity has become folklore and their exploits in the World Cup are fondly remembered. Cruyff did not win the World Cup, but his legacy will forever remain unmatched.