FIFA World Cup 2018 is coming to an end and it has been arguably the most unpredictable World Cup. It has been such from the qualifying stage itself. Teams like Italy and Netherlands didn’t qualify. Group stages saw shock exists and heroic wins of minnows. Modern era legends Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi once again failed to get their hands on the most prestigious trophy of the beautiful game. This was probably the last time they had a shot at the FIFA World Cup. After the FIFA World Cup 2018, Cristiano Ronaldo took up a new challenge in club football, joining Juventus while Lionel Messi is back to his normal self. The list of great players who never won FIFA World Cup is very long. So, here we take a look at the players who rose to the occasion at FIFA World Cup and made the world bow in front of them.
Pele: Samba magic at its best
The Brazilian great doesn’t need any introduction. He was as lethal in FIFA World Cup as he was in other competitions. Having appeared in four FIFA World Cup finals, he scored in all of them. His contribution lead to Brazil’s victory in 3 of those finals in 1958,1962 and 1970. Pele’s exceptional record at FIFA World Cup is what Neymar would be looking to emulate. When Pele appeared in his first FIFA World Cup at the tender age of 17,his blistering performances sent the world into a frenzy. He holds the record for most World Cup wins for a player.
Pele’s greatness was evident to the world. Ferenc Puskas once said:
“The greatest player in history was Di Stefano. I refuse to classify Pele as a player. He was above that.”
Diego Maradona: Hand of God
You may hate Diego Maradona for his antics in the present FIFA World Cup but as a player, he is still the best Argentina has ever been blessed with. Messi fans may argue on this point but Diego Maradona has done what Messi couldn’t- win the FIFA World Cup for Argentina. Like Pele, Diego Maradona also appeared in four world cups. His amazing performance in FIFA World Cup 1986 gave him the much popular golden ball award. Though he has had his problems with drug abuse, but he gave defenders nightmares. His stature was of a God. Asked once to name his starting XI in 1990, Argentina manager Carlos Bilardo famously said:
“Maradona and ten others” Similar to Sir Alex Ferguson’s comment about Zinedine Zidane.
Zinedine Zidane: Head of French dominance
Zinedine Zidane made the headlines recently when he left as the manager of Real Madrid despite winning 3 UCLs back to back. He is the only manger in the wold to do so, still, Zinedine Zidane the player eclipses Zidane the manager. People may remember him for letting France down in 2006 World Cup final, where his headbutt saw him being sent off. Zinedine Zidane played in 3 World Cups, winning the trophy in 1998. To win such big tournament on home soil is always a tough task to do. Zidane came out of retirement in 2006 and inspired France to finale. Now a different looking France face Croatian challenge in final. Can Kante and Pogba pay tribute to Zinedine Zidane? It is still to be seen.
Mario Gotze was once the next big thing in football. In Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund, he flourished as a midfielder. His rise saw him making it to World Cup squad. Mario Gotze became a national hero overnight when he came off the bench to score the winner in extra time vs Argentina in 2014. German coach Joachim Low famously said before substituting him on,
“Show the world you are better than Messi and can decide the World Cup”
Mario Gotze has went downhill since, but his name will be written forever in world cup glory. He has achieved what many greats couldn’t. Win the world cup.
The biggest night of the FIFA World Cup 2018 is here, will we see a making of a new legend or will Croatia become the most under rated team to conquer the trophy? It all depends on today’s game.
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