Great players who never reached a World Cup finals XI

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Croatia’s 2-0 win over Iceland ended  former Chelsea star Eidur Gudjohnsen’s hopes of ever reaching a World Cup but the Premier League winner should not be too disheartened because he’s in good company, as our team of players who failed to reach a World Cup Finals shows.

 WCXI

Mark Bosnich (GK) – A takeaway-heavy diet may have put paid to his Manchester United career, but in 1998 ‘Bosser’ was in great form with Aston Villa and on course for a World Cup with Australia. That was until two goals in a play-off second leg against Iran saw the Socceroos fall at the final hurdle.

Kakha Kaladze (LB) – The defender won the Scudetto, Coppa Italia and Champions League (twice) with AC Milan but his fine form for the Rossoneri did not translate into success at international level with a third place finish in 2002 qualification the best the current Georgian Minister For Energy achieved.

Cristian Chivu (CB) – Another Serie A stalwart with Roma and Inter Milan, the versatile defender did star for Romania at Euro 2008, keeping out both Italy and France, but his international career ended in something of a damp squib after a fifth place finish in qualifying for World Cup 2010 prompted his retirement.

Sami Hyypiä (CB) –The Finn may have failed to reach a World Cup but his heroic efforts in a final group game with Germany in 2002 ensured a 0-0 scoreline and England’s qualification. Came close in 2010, when a draw away to lowly Liechtenstein proved crucial as Russia pipped them to a play-off spot.

Mario Melchiot (RB) – Something of a surprise inclusion, Melchiot’s Chelsea form prompted a series of call-ups for the 2002 qualification campaign. But Holland imploded, finishing third behind Portugal and Ireland. By the time the next tournament came around, the Dutchman was out of the picture.

David Ginola (LM) – L’Oréal may have thought he was worth it but former France managers Gerard Houllier and Aime Jacquet were not so sure. The beginning of the end for the former PSG and Spurs man was a misplaced cross during a World Cup qualifier which allowed Bulgaria to march down the other end and score the goal which booked them a place at USA 94 instead of the French. Sacre Bleu!

Ryan Giggs (CM) – This would be no list of the best footballers not to make a World Cup if Ryan Giggs was not included. If 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions League titles cannot get you to a World Cup, what can? A decent Wales team would have been a start…

Liam Brady (CM) – The Arsenal legend won silverware in England and with Juventus in Italy but never wore the Irish shirt on the biggest stage of them all. ‘Chippy’ made 72 appearances for his country scoring nine goals but missed out on Italia 90 after retiring from the game during the qualification campaign.

George Best (RM) – Then Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham considered taking “Georgie” to the 1982 World Cup but with the Manchester United legend past his best it never happened. The man who had magic in his feet was a leading light in a poor side and despite playing 37 times and scoring 9 goals he could not drag his country to the finals.

George Weah (CF) – The striker may have been named FIFA World Player of the Year, European Footballer of the Year, and African Footballer of the Year and won league titles in France and Italy, but his success at club level did not extend to the international stage. The former AC Milan and PSG star played for, coached and even bank-rolled Liberia but they still could not reach the World Cup.

Abedi Ayew (CF) – The Ghanaian made his name at Marseille in the 90s winning a European Cup and three Ligue 1 titles. Voted African Footballer of the Year three times, he was an African legend and led Ghana to the 1982 African Cup of Nations, but the world stage eluded the man nicknamed “Pelé” unlike his sons Ibrahim and Andre who represented Ghana at South Africa in 2010.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.