The Six Greatest Footballers Not to Have Played in A World Cup

Goutham BabuCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2009

Hello Readers, I know I am a forgotten writer in b/r since this is my first article after a long four months, so have a read and leave some feedback...

Since the first ever World Cup of football in 1930, it has been the ultimate stage for any footballer. Representing your country at the highest level is the dream of almost any sportsperson.

Sometimes, however, a player will be regarded by many as one of, maybe even the best in the world, but for reasons beyond their control does not make it to a World Cup in their career.

In other instances, reasons within their control, for example, bad attitude hinder their chances for international football.

In this article, I will run through the list of arguably the greatest players to have never represented their country in a World Cup.


Ryan Giggs

Born in 1973, Ryan Giggs has played for Manchester United since the 1990-91 season, coming through their youth system. By the age of 20, Giggs had firmly established himself as United´s first choice left winger.

As a youngster, he played for and captained England at schoolboy level, but as an adult, played for Wales. Giggs retired from international football in 2007, ending an international career which included no World Cups.


Duncan Edwards

Another Manchester United player, Edwards was born in 1936 and played a number of matches for England, featuring in all of England´s qualifiers for the 1958 World Cup. He was expected by many to play a key part for his country in the World Cup Finals.

Tragically, when returning to England from Belgrade, the plane carrying Edwards and a number of other United players crashed in Munich. Duncan Edwards later died in hospital, denying the World Cup of this great talent.


Eric Cantona

The controversial French forward referred to by some as “King Eric”, Cantona is one of the most iconic footballers to have played in England. Despite being an important player for Manchester United, a mixture of disagreement with the French national coach, France's failure to qualify for the World Cup in 1994, the introduction of Zinédine Zidane and the 1995 suspension of Cantona for kicking a Crystal Palace supporter stopped him from making a World Cup appearance.

George Weah

One of, if not the best player to come out of Africa, George Weah played his international football for Liberia, who, in his playing career did not qualify for a World Cup. Weah made up for this with his club career.

Whilst at Monaco, he won the 1991 French Cup. In 1994 he won the French league with Paris Saint Germain. Following this successful period in France, Weah moved to Italy to play for AC Milan.

After being named as the African Player of the Year in 1989 and 1994, he won the award again in 1995 whilst also winning the World Best Player and European Footballer of the Year awards. Whilst playing for AC Milan, Weah achieved two league titles. To top off his list of achievements he was named African Player of the Century.


Alfredo di Stéfano

This striker was named by Pelé as one of the Top 125 Greatest Living Footballers in 2004 and had an impressive career with a number of clubs including Real Madrid in Spain.

Di Stéfano was voted European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959 during his time in Madrid. Linking up with Ferenc Puskás, he managed 216 goals in 262 games between 1953 and 1964.

During his career, Di Stéfano played six games for Argentina, four for Columbia and 31 times for Spain. He was playing for Argentina at the time of the 1950 World Cup, however, the South American country refused to take part.

In 1954, he was ineligible to play, having played for Argentina and Columbia. In 1958, Di Stéfano had acquired Spanish citizenship. He played for Spain in the buildup in 1957, but was unable to help them qualify for the finals. A muscular injury prevented him from playing in 1962, making him one of the best players to have not played in a World Cup.


George Best

Born in 1946, the Northern Irish winger is best known for his time at Manchester United. Combined pace, balance and acceleration with his ability to use both feet allowed Best to beat defenders and score a number of goals.

Known not only for his ability on the field, but also for living a stylish lifestyle, Best was one of the first footballers to be known as a celebrity. During his time at Manchester United, he scored 138 goals in 361 games.

Playing for Northern Ireland, he managed nine goals in 37 matches. Unfortunately, during the greatest years of Best's career his country did not manage to qualify for the World Cup. He was considered for the 1982 competition, which Northern Ireland qualified for, but at the age of 36, manager Billy Bingham chose not to pick him.

Despite this, Best is still considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time.