From Romario to Seedorf – Five stars left out of a World Cup
The news that Carlos Vela is to play no part in this summer’s World Cup for his national side Mexico came as quite a shock, particularly when you consider the uphill task facing the team.
Drawn alongside Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon, El Tricolor are 4/6 with Ladbrokes to be eliminated at the group stage, while even if they do progress a second round exit looks likely and is 15/8 with the bookies due to the fact they will likely face either Spain or Holland.
All of which makes the exclusion of Vela, who has excelled in La Liga with Real Sociedad, puzzling. It was initially suggested the Mexican FA were unsure if he was “mentally” ready for the tournament but subsequent reports have suggested it was the striker’s decision.
Whatever the case, the Mexican is not the first and will not be the last player to miss out on a World Cup despite being in-form and fully fit.
Selecao manager Mario Zagallo struck gold when he decided to partner 1994 World Cup hero Romario with Brazil’s new striking prospect Ronaldo in the two years prior to the finals in France.
But in the weeks leading up to the 1998 World Cup, disaster seemingly struck, with Romario suffering a calf injury that looked to have ruled him out.
Only that wasn’t the whole story. In the years since, the striker has claimed he recovered in time, only to be told by the coaching staff that there was no room for him or his ego.
The Selecao went on to lose 3-0 in the final, where an under-pressure Ronaldo flopped following a seizure before the game. If only they had had Romario to call upon.
In 2000, Roberto Baggio departed Inter Milan for unfashionable Brescia with one thing on this mind – playing his way into Italy’s plans for the World Cup and it was a gamble that looked to be paying off following eight goals in the first nine games of the 2001/02 season.
But disaster struck, with Baggio tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee twice in what was supposed to be a season-ending injury.
However, determined to make the World Cup, the Divine Ponytail began his rehabilitation quickly and was miraculously back playing within 76 days, scoring a series of crucial goals to help keep Brescia in the top flight.
Giovanni Trappatoni was unconvinced though, and excluded him from Italy’s 23-man squad. The national side limped out of the competition in the second round, losing 2-1 to South Korea.
In 2002, Clarence Seedorf was among the Oranje players who missed out on the World Cup after finishing behind Portugal and the Republic of Ireland in qualifying.
But rather than mope around, the midfielder got on with impressing at club level winning the Champions League, Serie A, Coppa Italia, and Super Cup with AC Milan over the next four years.
But come the announcement of Marco Van Basten’s squad for the 2006 finals, Seedorf wasn’t included. While the nature of the dispute between the manager and player is unclear, something was array given that the likes of George Boateng and Denny Landzaat were picked ahead of him.
Seedorf would go on to officially rule himself out of playing for the Oranje while Van Basten was in charge, though by then he had had the last laugh – Holland went out in the second round at the World Cup and in 2007 Seedorf won the Champions League again.
Back in 1980, Bernd Schuster was regarded as the great hope of the West German national team, after delivering a string of impressive performances at the 1980 European Championships.
However the midfielder was never far from trouble, clashing with the German Football Association as well as national team boss Jupp Derwall and influential teammate Paul Breitner.
With his then wife Gaby becoming his manager, and the pair attracting Posh and Becks style national media coverage, the playmaker decided to retire from the national team at the age of just 24.
His exile remained in place until 1993, when an impressive spell with Bayer Leverkusen saw some calling for his reinstatement. Berti Vogts was unmoved though and Germany subsequently suffered a shock defeat to Bulgaria in the quarter finals.
The Red Devils man was supposed to lead the Republic of Ireland at the finals with hopes high that the Green Army could make an impact after impressing in qualifying.
But Keane, who had been so instrumental to their success, was unhappy with the training and facilities provided by the Irish FA and manager Mick McCarthy.
His negativity soon boiled over into a row with McCarthy, after the manager accused him of faking an injury, something Keane took umbrage with.
During the 10-minute expletive-filled rant, Keane reportedly called McCarthy “a liar” who he didn’t “rate” as a manager or a person. It was enough to see him kicked out of the squad, with the Manchester United man years later admitting his regret at the outburst.
Ireland went on to lose to Spain on penalties in the second round.
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