These greats dominated the sport for years but failed to get their hands on the coveted prize.
Winning the FIFA World cup is often touted as the pinnacle of a footballer’s career. Some of the greatest names to have graced a football pitch have lifted the coveted trophy.
That being said, some of the footballing world’s biggest names have been frustrated in their attempts to be crowned the Champions of the world.
We, at Khel Now, take you through a list of our top ten players to have never won a world cup.
10. Paolo Maldini (Italy)
The Italian defender is widely regarded as being one of the best of all time in his position. His ability to read the game allowed him to lead his AC Milan to five Champions Leagues titles. However, the Italian was continually frustrated in his efforts at FIFA world cups, taking part in four editions of the famous tournament.
The closest the former AC Milan captain manager to get to lifting the trophy was in 1994, when the Italians lost out to Brazil via a penalty shootout.
9. Oliver Kahn (Germany)
The belligerent German goalkeeper was known as much for his brilliance on the pitch as he was for his temper. Kahn spent fourteen years between the sticks at Bayern Munich, winning eight German titles and one Champions League title. He also saw international success with Germany at the 1996 European Championships.
However, Kahn was not quite as successful at world cups. The shot-stopper was guilty of gifting Ronaldo Nazario the opener in the final of the 2002 FIFA world cup, which would be the closest he got to the title.
8. Ruud Gullit (Netherlands)
Ruud Gullit was an instrumental part of the scintillating Dutch side that was tipped for a long run in the 1990 FIFA world cup. A former Ballon d’Or winner, Guillit looked all set to fire his team to world cup glory. But it was not to be. The Netherlands crashed out as early as the round of 16, much to the dismay of an entire nation.
Gullit’s next opportunity at World Cup glory came in 1994. However, the Dutchman announced his retirement weeks before the tournament.
7. Roberto Baggio (Italy)
The former AC Milan and Juventus forward went into the 1994 edition of the FIFA World Cup in the United States of America as the reigning holder of the Ballon d’Or. The Italians’ campaign saw them take on Brazil in the final of the tournament, with the game reaching a penalty shootout.
Cue perhaps the worst moment of Baggio’s illustrious career. The forward fired his shot well over the crossbar, condemning Italy to a frustrating runners-up medal.
6. Eric Cantona (France)
Any discussion about Eric Cantona is often a puzzling one. The outspoken Frenchman was mercurial in his club career but not for the French national team. The former Manchester United striker was part of a French era that included some of the most talented players in recent years.
However, the striker fell out with the French FA in 1995, failing to make another appearance for the national side. Cantona had later claimed that had the altercation not taken place, that he would have taken part in France’s 1998 World Cup success.
5. Kevin Keegan (England)
Kevin Keegan was one of the brightest footballing prospects hailing from England in the 1980s. The forward plied his trade for a number of clubs, most notably Newcastle United and Liverpool. At his peak, Keegan won back to back Ballon d’Or titles, making him one of the best players of his era.
However, like several individuals on this list. His individual and club success failed to translate into an international success. Keegan was tasked with leading his country at the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. However, a crippling back injury restricted him to just one game in the tournament, in which the usually reliable forward squandered a chance from point-blank that saw his side crash out of the competition.
4. Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)
The legendary attacker was part of Hungary’s golden generation, scoring a mind-boggling 84 goals in 85 appearances for his country. Puskas also scored 514 goals in 530 club games over the course of his career, making him one of the most deadly attackers of all time.
The attacker led his country’s run to the 1954 FIFA world cup final in Switzerland, to face West Germany. However, the Germans would prevail winning by three goals to two, denying the legend a world championship.
The Hungarian striker did leave a mark on the match, by scoring the first goal.
3. Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
Johan Cruyff was just as splendid a football player as he was a manager. A true pioneer of the sport, Cruyff through his ‘total football’, shaped much of what we recognize as modern football today. The famous ‘Cruyff Turn’ was first introduced to the world at the 1974 FIFA world cup.
Unfortunately, however, the spectacular piece of skill would be Cruyff’s only talking point from the tournament, making the World Cup one of the few honours that the Dutchman failed to win over the course of his illustrious career.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Not many footballers can boast of the frankly ridiculous trophy cabinet that Cristiano Ronaldo has amassed over the course of his career. With five Ballon d’Ors, five UEFA Champions League trophies, three Premier League titles, two La Ligas and a Serie A title to name a few, Ronaldo is rightly regarded as one of the best players to have ever played the game. For many a year, he was plagued by the lack of an international trophy to add to his cabinet, failing to lift the coveted FIFA world cup trophy on multiple occasions.
However, with the 2022 World cup looming the 35-year-old will be hoping for one final push to lift the famous trophy.
1. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
There have been few footballers throughout history with the raw talent and ability of Lionel Messi. The diminutive Argentinian’s goalscoring record speaks for itself, having broken almost every record imaginable. However, not even six Ballon d’Ors, four Champions Leagues and ten La Liga titles would satiate the Argentinian on his quest for an illusive international title.
The closest that the Barcelona forward came to lifting the title was in 2014 when Argentina were beaten by a Mario Gotze goal in extra time in the FIFA World Cup final in Brazil. Agonizingly close but alas not close enough.