The top 5 players who never won the World Cup

World Cup

Qatar 2022 is getting closer and closer, and it is inevitable to feel the World Cup atmosphere in full swing. Players are getting ready and coaches are looking to see who will make their final squad. Every four years, the nerves are building up.

In the history of the World Cup, great legends have played, but not all of them have had the chance to lift the most beautiful trophy in the world. Many fell by the wayside, and for others, it was the one trophy they missed out on winning.

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These are the top 5 players who could never win the World Cup

5. Paolo Maldini

One of the best defenders in the world has an exceptional track record. A whole career with Milan brought him countless trophies, as well as being considered a club legend. But with the Italian national team, his success was not the same.

He started his career with the senior national team in 1988, and his good performances took him to the 1990 World Cup, played in Italy. The Azzurri were favourites to win the tournament but were knocked out in the semi-finals by then world champions Argentina.

By 1994 he was already the defensive anchorman alongside Franco Baresi, and in the USA they reached the final, but Roberto Baggio’s penalty miss robbed him of the chance to lift the trophy. By France 98 he was captain of Italy, but his adventure ended in the quarter-finals against eventual champions France.

His last chance came in 2002 in Korea/Japan, but he was eliminated in the Round of 16 after a scandalous match against the hosts. By 2006 he was still fit enough to play for Italy but had already retired from the national team. Italy would be champions in Germany, a pity that “Il Capitano” left without lifting the FIFA World Cup.

4. Oliver Kahn

One of the best goalkeepers in the world and a symbol of Germany came very close to lifting the trophy, but football was cruel to him, and he lost it in the most traumatic way possible.

He was a substitute in the 1994 World Cup. Germany were the defending champions but could not retain their crown, by 1998 he was also a substitute for Andreas Köpke and Germany failed to make it past the quarter-finals again.

The German national team was in the midst of restructuring and Kahn went through some dark times, but it was in 2002 that he finally got the chance to be the first-choice keeper. Germany had a young but competitive team and Kahn was one of the leaders, in fact, he came on as captain in the final because Ballack was suspended.

In an unprecedented final against Brazil, it was expected to be a good game, and it was, but a costly mistake by Kahn on a Rivaldo shot gave Brazil a goal from which the German team never recovered, and they lost the cup. The image of the disconsolate goalkeeper leaning against the post is an indelible one. Let’s remember that Kahn played with torn ligaments in one of his right fingers. The goalkeeper had a lot of courage.

For the 2006 World Cup, he was again a substitute and played his last international match at home when Germany won third place against Portugal.

3. Zico

Very strange to have such a talented Brazilian without having won the World Cup. Brazil boasts 5 world championships, but Zico has never lifted the trophy. The heir to Pele’s 10, he could not emulate the success of his compatriot.

He donned the Verdeamarelha jersey for the first time in 1976 and played in the World Cup in Argentina in 1978. Brazil are always favourites and that team was very good. But they couldn’t make it to the second group stage.

By ’82 the Brazilian team was considered the best in the world. Socrates, Falcao, Toninho Cerezo, well, world-class players on all lines with Zico as the top symbol and star.

They were on course to win. The title, but they did not count on the resurrection of Italy and a Paolo Rossi in a state of grace that beat them in a mythical game in Sarriá 3-2. Brazil were eliminated, and perhaps this was the clearest opportunity for “O Galinho” to win the trophy.

For Mexico 86, he was injured, but he was still decisive. They were knocked out by France in the quarter-finals in a legendary game where, ironically, another player on our list, missed a penalty. Platini and Zico missed a spot-kick in the same game, but France qualified for the semis, leaving the Brazilian without his World Cup.

He retired from international football in 1988, as one of the greats, but without a world title.

2. Michel Platini

The three-time Ballon d’Or winner was left wanting to lift the trophy in his career and had opportunities, but could never get past the semi-finals despite the great team France had.

His first World Cup was in 1978, and he was a young man in a team under construction, although Michel played a great World Cup, he could not prevent France’s elimination in the first round.

With a more mature Platini and an intimidating team, France went to Spain with the aim of winning the most coveted trophy in the world. France were flying, and the striker was showing why he was the best in the world then. But when they reached the semi-finals, they were eliminated in a great match against Germany. 

In Mexico 86, France were clear favourites, they were European champions and Platini the Ballon d’Or. Les Bleus were a great team and the specialists thought that the final would be against Argentina in a dream match against Maradona.

France got through the group without any problems, in the round of 16 they eliminated champions Italy, in the quarter-finals they faced Brazil, another favourite, and eliminated them with a penalty missed by Platini. In the semi-finals, they faced Germany and could smell a rematch, but once again they were unable to overcome the Teutonic power and were knocked out in the semi-finals.

Platini did not get to play in another World Cup, but he had the time of his life at the Stade de France in 1998 when France won their first World Cup. His smile will be unforgettable.

1. Johan Cruyff

The creator of total football and one of the greatest players in history only played in one World Cup and almost won it. It was in Germany in 1974 when the famous Clockwork Orange exploded and the world of football was not the same.

Johan started his international career in 1968 and from then on he showed his quality. It was known that he was different and that they had a gem who was likely to be a World Cup historic player. They did not qualify for the World Cup in Mexico, but by 74 the Clockwork Orange was a reality.

By the time of the World Cup in Germany, Cruyff already had three Ballon d’Ors and was the best player in the world. His national team put anyone in front of them, including world champions Brazil in an epic semi-final where Cruyff scored a legendary goal.

For the final, they faced bitter rivals Germany. The match was not even a minute old when Johan dribbled through half the German team only to be tackled inside the box. Penalty and goal for the Netherlands, scored by Johan Neeskens. 

Germany did not give up and came back, taking away Johan’s chance to win the World Cup. He retired from the national team in ’77 and considered returning for the ’78 World Cup, but for political reasons decided not to go. Genius and figure.

Interestingly, every time Cruyff scored for the Netherlands, his national team never lost. Maybe he should have taken the penalty in the final.

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