The World Cup is the pinnacle for every footballer, but as Lionel Messi can attest, even if you’re the best player in the world, this is no guarantee for World Cup glory.
Many of the world’s best footballers never capture football ultimate prize. So who are the 10 greatest players who have never won a World Cup?
10. Luis Figo – Portugal
Was once the most expensive footballer in the world when he made his move from Barcelona to Real Madrid but the Portuguese winger has only managed to reach the semi finals of the World Cup with Portugal.Despite winning the La Liga four times, Serie A four times and an UEFA Champions League medal, Figo played at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and didn’t manage to achieve success with Portugal.
9. Ferenc Puskas – Hungary
Puskas scored a magnificent 84 goals in 85 international games for Hungary but only managed a runners up medal at the 1954 World Cup. He won the golden boot at the 1954 World Cup but was on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat by West Germany in which he scored. He is known as one of the best ever goalscorers and his records at Budapest Honved and Real Madrid boast extraordinary statistics.
8. Eric Cantona – France
The flamboyant Frenchman has never made an appearance at the World Cup finals which is a tragedy for a footballer of such talent and ability. Cantona did have a hot streak and it was his comments about the then French manager in 1988 that cost him his place at the 1990 World Cup. France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup and the famous kung fu kick in 1995 never saw Cantona feature for Les Bleus again.
7. Marco Van Basten – Holland
Despite winning the 1992 FIFA World Player of the Year award, Marco Van Basten’s international career was premature due to injury which saw him retire at the age of 28 for Holland. He still amassed 24 goals in 58 games for his country but never scored at the World Cup finals. He was part of the Holland side that exited the 1990 World Cup at the second round and that was his only appearance at the World Cup level.
6. George Best – Northern Ireland
With all due respect to Northern Ireland, their lack of talent coming out of Northern Ireland denied one of the most gifted footballers ever the chance to play on the world’s biggest stage. Northern Ireland did eventually manage to qualify for the 1982 World Cup but by that time Best was 36 years old and playing in Hong Kong.
5. Eusebio – Portugal
The great Eusebio died earlier this year but the Portuguese forward will always be remembered for his goal scoring exploits. He single handily carried Portugal to the semi-finals of the 1966 World Cup and eventually came undone by England. He scored 9 goals at the 1966 World Cup and easily won the Golden boot for the tournament. Portugal didn’t qualify for the 1962 and 1970 World Cup’s which meant Eusebio’s performances at the 1966 World Cup was the only World Cup he would feature at but what memorable performances he gave.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal
He has potential to be higher up the list but Cristiano Ronaldo is still in the peak of his career and has every chance of winning a World Cup still. His two performances in the 2014 World Cup play offs against Sweden were breathtaking as his 4 goals contributed to them qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Brazil. Having made his debut for Portugal in 2003, he has made 110 caps and scored an impressive 49 goals. Ronaldo has scored just two goals at the World Cup finals and will need to improve significantly on this tally if he has any chance of winning a World Cup.
3. Lionel Messi – Argentina
Similar to Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi is still in the prime of his career so can’t yet justify being further up the list but the little magician will be hoping that the World Cup in Brazil this year will be his first World Cup success. Messi was injured prior to the 2006 World Cup so his impact was often made from the substitute’s bench. Argentina were eventually knocked out in the quarters to Germany and the 2010 World Cup was a repeat as Germany once again knocked out Messi and Co in the quarter finals.
2. Johan Cruyff – Holland
Cruyff was instrumental in the ‘Total Football’ philosophy adopted by Holland in the 70’s and the Ajax legend played a huge part in Holland’s performances at the 1974 World Cup. He was named player of the tournament and won the penalty in the final against West Germany but they ended up losing 2-1 which unfortunately denied Cruyff a World Cup title. He retired in 1977 from international football having been a part of the qualification campaign for the 1978 World Cup which Holland went on to lose in the final again.
1. Zico – Brazil
Considered to be the greatest ever footballer to not have won a World Cup having been a part of the successful Brazilian sides of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Having scored 66 goals in 89 games for Brazil he appeared at the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cup finals but only managed a third place finish at the 1978 final.
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