Everyone is always mentioning how the two perceived “GOATs” Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have failed to win football’s greatest prize. This year’s edition of the World Cup is probably the last chance the two modern idols of the game have to claim the golden trophy. There is a litany of other players who have failed conquer the world on the football pitch.
Here are some of the greatest players that haven’t won the World Cup:
1. Eric Cantona
The former Manchester United talisman has never won the World Cup. His temperament or lack thereof might have just cost him a place in France 1998 World Cup triumph. But could his place have also been taken by a certain Zinedine Zidane? His off field behaviour had him banned for international matches in 1990 as well.
2. Alfredo Di Stefano
Much has been said about the former Madridista and Pele even called him one of the best. He dominated football and led Real Madrid to an impressive 5 European Cups in a row in the 1950s and early 1960s. The World Cup is one of the few accolades he missed out on. The fact that he switched national allegiances from Argentina to Spain and at some point Colombia hindered his chances as well.
3. George Weah
The current president of Liberia has been called one of Africa’s best talents but he doesn’t even have a World Cup appearance? Weah was loyal to his homeland and chose to play for Liberia, one of Africa’s lowest minnows and that made him lose out on opportunities to play on the big stage.
Another African great though he played for Portugal at international level, Eusebio was born in Maputo, Mozambique. He top scored for Portugal in the 1966 World Cup but sadly they were bundled out in the semi-finals.
5. Johan Cyruff
The Dutch legend influenced football and no one can ever doubt that. His students like Xavi and Pep Guardiaola still carry his torch for his “total football” way but he never got close to winning the World Cup as well.
6. Paolo Maldini
The AC Milan legend took part in four editions of the World Cup. He played football for 24 years and completed club football with all the honours available but he just couldn’t mount the highest mountain internationally.
7. Ferenc Puskas
The 1954 World Cup Final is still talked about today because of it’s wonderful moments but sadly Puskas’s side ended up on the losing side, with German triumphant at the end.
8. George Best
One of the most iconic players to ever play football but sadly his country Northern Ireland never even qualified for the continental show-piece during his playing days.
9. Oliver Kahn
Manuer Neur wore Oliver Kahn t-shirts when he was growing up! The Deutsch shot-stopper is the only goal keeper to ever win the Golden Ball at the World Cup. Sadly, his World Cup journey will forever be remembered by the moment when he gifted Ronaldo the opening goal in the 2002 Final. He called it his “only mistake in the finals”.
10. Roberto Baggio
The former AC Milan man went into the 1994 World Cup on a hot streak. He just been been awarded the Ballon d’Or after a spellbinding season. It was almost the perfect World Cup for Italy when they reached the final against Brazil but it wasn’t meant to be. Baggio missed his spot-kick in the shoot-out and Brazil claimed the gold.
11. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan has his own way of doing things and the cult of personality he has created around himself is astounding. One of the few players to ever score over 500 official goals but none of those were at the World Cup.
12. Claude Makelele
Makelele inspired a generation! He ran so that Ngolo Kante could walk. Defensive Midfielders are prized today because of him. He was unlucky not to be included in the 1998 France World Cup squad.
13. Lev Yashin
Some call him the best goal-keeper to ever do it and that could have been true when he carried the USSR on his back to the last 4 of the 1966 World Cup. West Germany prevailed that time.
14. Ruud Gullit
A Ballon d’Or winner in 1987. Gullit was part of Dutch teams who were perennial favourites for silverware in 1980s but always ended up as bridesmaids. A dispute with the coach in 1993 ruined his chances to play in the 1994 World Cup.
15. Michel Platini
Known for corruption and scandals these days, but during his playing days Platini was a marvel to watch. He was a pillar and the star the of team as Les Bleus reached the semi-finals in the 1986 edition but lost in the shoot-out after a 3-3 draw.