Now or Never: 20 Players With One Last Chance to Win the World Cup
Every sport has that one trophy that every professional wants to say that they have the privilege of hoisting above their head.
For professional footballers all over the globe the one trophy that ties them all together in collective desire is the FIFA World Cup.
The European Championship and Copa America are all great achievements, but the one trophy that ever player wants to win is the World Cup.
The have the honor of proclaiming yourself and your country as the World Champions for a four-year period.
For many of the world's elite players, such an honor has eluded them for their entire professional career.
Some of the best players in world football will have just one last chance in South Africa to accomplish their dreams of becoming a World Cup winner.
For many entering the 2010 World Cup, this is their final chance to grace the biggest stages in world football and attempt to be crowned champions of the world.
Frank Lampard - England
Frank Lampard has had a very distinguished footballing career.
After leaving West Ham United for Chelsea, the English midfielder's talents really came to the surface.
Lampard is the only midfield player in the Top 10 All-time Premier League Goalscorers.
He is one of only two player in the Top 10 All-time Premier League Goalscorers list that is still active...the other being Michael Owen.
Despite having such a productive career, Lampard has never won a Champions League or World Cup winners medal.
Lampard has made 77 international appearances for England and scored 20 times for his country.
Lampard will turn 32 soon after the opening of the World Cup in South Africa.
With the likes of James Milner, Adam Johnson, Jack Wilshere and other talented youths coming through the English ranks, it is hard to see a 36-year-old Lampard being able to make the England side for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
South Africa will be his last chance to get his hands on a World Cup medal.
Nicolas Anelka - France
Nicolas Anelka has won just about every medal worth mentioning.
He has won the Champions League, the Premier League and FA Cup with both Arsenal and Chelsea.
On top of that he has won the Turkish league and UEFA Intertoto Cup.
With France he has picked up a European Championship medal and Confederations Cup medal.
The one medal that has eluded the French forward is the World Cup.
Anelka missed out on being a part of the France set-up that won the 1998 World Cup as hosts.
Anelka has cost just under £90 million in combined transfer fees, making him the second most expensive player after Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Chelsea frontman turned 31 in March. With youthful strikers such as Karim Benzema, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Bafetimbi Gomis available for the French set-up it is highly doubtful that Anelka would be called-up at the age of 35 for the World Cup in Brazil.
South Africa will most likely be the Frenchman's last chance to obtain his missing medal.
Miroslav Klose - Germany
Despite Miroslav Klose being born in Poland, he has been German through and through for the entirety of his career.
Klose has never played club football outside of Germany.
Homburg, Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen, and Bayern Munich have been the only four teams that the big striker has played for.
Klose has played 94 caps for Germany, and scored 48 times.
He will be hoping that he can attend yet another World Cup with Germany as he closes in on the century mark for appearances.
Klose has been to the brink of World Cup glory as he has picked up a runners-up medal in 2002, and a third-place medal in 2006.
He has also won the Sliver Shoe and Golden Shoe in 2002 and 2006, respectively.
Soon to be 32, Klose is no certainty to make the Germany squad for the upcoming World Cup, but if he is to make the cut, it will most certainly be his final World Cup appearance.
With age coming injury, Klose struggled to make 25 combined appearance this season for Bayern, who had a prolonged season reaching two cup finals.
Mark van Bommel - Holland
Mark van Bommel has been playing professional football for 18 years and is still performing on the biggest stages in football.
The Dutchman recently just lost a Champions League final to Inter Milan, and is expected to play the anchor in the Dutch midfield at the World Cup.
It took van Bommel eight years before receiving his international debut in 2000.
Since his first call-up, van Bommel has appeared a further 53 times for his country.
After winning three different league titles, a Champions League title in 2006, and both a Dutch and German Cup, the only thing left to add to his collection is the most sought after trophy in world football.
The Dutch midfielder turned 33 back in April and will be 37 be the time Brazil 2014 comes around.
It is safe to say that if van Bommel has not retired from top flight football by that stage, he would at least be out of contention for the Dutch set-up.
South Africa is his last stop for a World Cup medal.
Ricardo Carvalho - Portugal
Ricardo Carvalho recently just picked up yet another Premier League medal and FA Cup medal, after a very successful year for Chelsea.
Unfortunately for the Portuguese defender, he has been struggling with injuries over the last two years.
Carvalho have played just 34 times in the league for Chelsea over the last two years.
He has made just 47 appearances in all competitions over the last two years for the London side.
He has managed just one appearance for Portugal in 2010.
Carvalho turned 32 earlier this month and will most likely be on the plane to South Africa.
However, injuries are starting to take their tole on Chelsea's 2008 Player of the Year.
Portugal have youth at centre-half with Real Madrid's Pepe among others.
Carvalho will make his final World Cup appearance this year, and if he is fortunate he may be able to play apart, at 34 years old for Portugal at Euro 2012.
But come Brazil 2014, his better days will be long gone.
Dejan Stankovic - Serbia
Dejan Stankovic just had the most successful year of his long 17-year career.
The Serbian midfielder won a treble with his Italian side Inter Milan.
He helped Inter to yet another Scudetto, while also winning the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.
Stankovic could only make his year even better, if his Serbian side could manage to lift the World Cup.
Stankovic will turn 32 just before the start of the new Italian season.
The current Serbian captain has been a great leader and ambassador for his country.
Only Savo Milosevic has more caps than Dejan, but Serbia may have to go into the 2014 World Cup with a new captain.
The Serbian side has a great deal of youth talent coming through the ranks.
Gojko Kacar, Radosav Petrovic and Zdravko Kuzmanovic are just to name a few who could force Dejan out of the side.
Stankovic would be on the verge of turning 36 come Brazil 2014, and although he is the most experienced player the side have know in four years time the squad will be more experienced and sadly Dejan will mostly probably be past the "sell by" date.
Carlos Puyol - Spain
The Barcelona captain won he fourth La Liga title this season.
On top of his league titles, the Spanish defender has also won every other possible medal from the Spanish Cup to the FIFA Club World Cup.
In 2008, Puyol won the European Championship with Spain. He then went on to win six different medals with Barcelona.
The only thing left on Carlos Puyol's "To Win" list is the World Cup.
Spain are entering the competition as favorites to lift the cup come July, and Puyol will hope that his country can, as it may very well be his last chance.
Puyol recently turned 32 back in April and despite being a consistent member of the Barcelona starting XI, come 2014, Puyol may be past it.
Defenders are a unique breed, and like goalkeepers they can play at the top level deep into their 30s.
However, rumors has spread that Puyol may be on his way out of the Nou Camp and 15 years of playing competitive top flight football takes it toll.
In his last six years, Puyol has competed in 45 games or more at the highest level in club football, not to mention the extra international games he would be making in between.
Walter Samuel - Argentina
Walter Samuel enjoyed the most successful year in his career, winning the league, cup, and Champions League with Inter Milan.
The Argentine defender alongside Lucio led the Italian side to a Champions League victory over Bayern Munich in Madrid, a former club of Samuel's.
Despite his great performances this year a question must be raised over the defender's longevity.
For the first time in four years, Samuel appeared in over 20 league games for Inter Milan.
In the three previous years, Samuel had only been able to make 47 league appearances for Inter.
Samuel turned 32 in March and will be hoping that his country can go on to win the biggest prize in world football and make his brilliant year even more so.
Walter will have just turned 36 when Brazil 2014 arrives. Despite the quality player that Samuel is, age may play a factor in his productivity and due to Deigo Maradona's excessive changes to the Argentine lineup, there are plenty of young defenders lying in wait to take Samuel's place.
Didier Drogba - Ivory Coast
Chelsea's top striker and the Premier League's top goalscorer this season will enter the World Cup with the hopes of a nation on his shoulders.
The Ivory Coast will hope that the he can continue his goalscoring form at the World Cup.
Didier Drogba scored 29 goals in the Premier League this season and scored a total of 37 goals for Chelsea.
So far Drogba has scored two goals for his country in 2010.
Drogba turned 32 back in March of this year and will mostly likely compete in his last-ever World Cup.
The frontman will be 36 when the next World Cup rolls around, and Ivory Coast has plenty of strikers in the wings.
Arouna Kone, Seydou Doumbia, Lacina Traore, and Drogba's Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou are all waiting for their turn to be Ivory Coast's main frontman.
Of course if his form can continue until he is 36, then he will make the cut for Brazil 2014, but asking Drogba to remain as potently productive at the top level in football for another four years is a hard ask.
Benni McCarthy - South Africa
Benni McCarthy is a two-sided player. There is the side of him that can be very productive and score a vast amount of goals.
And then there is the counter-productive side of him that inhibits his goalscoring ability.
McCarthy's attitude and mental has constantly been questioned at every club he has ended up with.
At teams like Seven Star, Ajax, and Porto he could not stop scoring and went on to win honors, such as Dutch and Portuguese league and cup medals, a long with the Champions League and Intercontinental Cup.
But spells at Celta Vigo, Blackburn Rovers, and West Ham United highlight the negative side of McCarthy.
McCarthy will be the main attacking threat for South Africa along with Bernard Parker.
At the age of 32, Benni McCarthy should expect this to be his last World Cup.
Not only is it doubtful that a 36-year-old McCarthy would make the lineup for the 2014 World Cup, but based on South Africa's recent performances, it is doubtful another of their squad would be going to Brazil in four years' time.
Antonio Di Natale - Italy
Antonio Di Natale has never picked up a single medal in his career.
In 15 years, Di Natale has never made a single final even to pick up a runners-up medal.
The closest Di Natale came to winning a medal was missing out of the Italian 2006 World Cup team, that went on to beat France in the final.
Di Natale will be hoping that this time around the current World Champions can go and defend their title, and lift the trophy once again so he can earn himself a medal.
At the age of 32, Di Natale was preferred to Raffaele Palladino to make the 28-man provisional squad.
Di Natale has not be guaranteed a place to South Africa just yet, and he will hope that he can win a spot this time around to attempt to secure his first ever winners medal, or even a runners-up one in his case.
Grafite - Brazil
Dunga chose against bringing some of Brazil's younger striking prospects such as Neymar, Pato and Andre, instead he brought Wolfsburg's 31-year-old striker Grafite.
Grafite has made just two appearances for Brazil. Grafite has a proven goalscoring record at Wolfsburg.
In 77 games, Grafite netted 50 goals. Despite his goalscoring ability people were shocked with his inclusion in the Brazil set-up ahead of the likes of AC Milan's Pato and Santos' Neymar and Andre.
Grafite will be 35 when the World Cup is held in his homeland.
He will most probably be out of contention for a place in the Brazil squad with the likes of Pato, Hulk, Neymar, Andre and Deigo Tardelli all hoping to have claimed a spot in the Brazil team.
Rio Ferdinand - England
The current England captain will be hoping to forget a somewhat dreadful domestic season by lifting the World Cup, something that has eluded England since 1966.
Ferdinand was handed the captaincy of England after John Terry was stripped of the armband after his private life affairs with Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend came to light.
Rio Ferdinand struggled all season with multiple injuries and could only lead Manchester United out 13 times in the league.
In the last two season Ferdinand has managed just 37 games, less than 50 percent of United's league games.
With an illustrious career for United in the bag, Rio will want to win something in his countries colors before it is too late.
Injuries and below average form have been concerning issues for the England centre-half and with the likes of Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson, Joleon Lescott and Ryan Shawcross waiting to step up, it is very possible that a 35-year-old Ferdinand will be unable to get onto the plane to Brazil.
William Gallas - France
William Gallas has been very unfortunate when it comes to winning medals and trophies.
Despite winning two Premier League medals and a League Cup at Chelsea, Gallas missed out on his chance to lift both the World Cup and European Championship with France.
The best Gallas could do was a runners-up medal in 2006, when France lost to Italy in the final.
In his last four years Gallas has managed to played in more than 27 league games just once.
Gallas nearly missed his chance to go to the World Cup this year around after suffering a calf injury.
He managed to make the squad, but then suffered a wrist injury after a being involved in a dune buggy crash.
France have Michael Ciani, Philippe Mexes and Marc Planus all available and all who are 28 or under.
Gallas will turn 33 just after the World Cup in South Africa. He will be on the verge of 37 come Brazil 2014 and will be most defiantly out of contention for another World Cup appearance.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst - Holland
Giovanni van Bronckhorst will lead his Dutch team out to the World Cup for one last time in South Africa.
The Dutch defender has had a very successful career. He won five medals with Rangers, including two doubles.
He won three medals with Arsenal, including a double and a Dutch cup with Feyenoord.
To complete his collection he won two La Liga medals with Barcelona and a Champions League medal.
Despite his success at club level, van Bronckhorst and Holland have consistently failed at international competitions.
The 35-year-old will hope that his country can finally break through their mental block and go on to succeed in South Africa.
It is safe to say that a 39-year-old Giovanni van Bronckhorst will not be in the Dutch set-up for Brazil 2014 and his last chance of international glory is this year's World Cup.
Deco - Portugal
Deco has Kaka, Ronaldinho and Juninho to blame for not winning a World Cup medal.
If it was not for their talents he may have been called up to the Brazil squad that went on to win the World Cup in 2002, defeating Germany in the final.
After that competition, Deco declared for Portugal and began making appearances for them.
Deco has won six league titles in three different countries, along with five cups over two countries, five supercups and a charity shield over three different countries.
The two cherries on top of it all are the two Champions League medals he won while at Porto and Barcelona.
Despite his major success at club level, Deco has never won anything at international level.
The closest he came was losing the final of the 2004 European Championships to Greece.
Deco will turn 33 in August an it is highly improbably that a 36-year-old Deco on the verge of turning 37 will make the trip to Brazil with Portugal.
Juan Sebastian Veron - Argentina
16 years of top flight football and Juan Sebastian Veron is still playing for his country at the highest level.
Veron was a shock inclusion to the Argentina set-up, but Diego Maradona called him up during the World Cup Qualifying stages and Veron has been a part of the system ever since.
The 35-year-old midfielder has 14 medals at club level and more recently won the South America Footballer of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
Veron is the oldest and most capped player in the squad of 23 heading to South Africa to represent Argentina.
Despite Argentina coach Diego Maradona constantly pulling out shock selections for his squad it is hard to conceive that Veron will participate in another World Cup after this year's tournament.
Even Maradona would not be able to bring a 39-year-old Veron to Brazil, at least one would assume so.
Joan Capdevila - Spain
Joan Capdevila has spent his career in Spain.
Stints with Espanyol, Atletico Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna, Villarreal cover his 14-year career.
He was a part of the Spanish side that won the 2008 European Championship.
During him time with Deportivo, Capdevila won a Spanish Cup and Supercup. Other than that, his career has been pretty vacant in regards to medals.
Capdevila will hope he can grow his 43 international caps to 50 come the end of the World Cup.
If that happens he will be assured another medal come the mid-July, be it a winners or runners-up medal.
Capdevila turned 32 back in February. He fought off Cesar Azpilicueta and Nacho Monreal to make the trip to South Africa in June.
But come Brazil 2014, it is highly unlikely that a 36-year-old Capdevila will be able to hold of Spain's other left-backs.
Jamie Carragher - England
Jamie Carragher came out of international retire earlier this year to fight for a place in the English setup.
Due to the off-field issues with John Terry and injury and form concerns regarding Rio Ferdinand, Carragher seen an opportunity for one last chance of England glory.
The Liverpool defender has not secured his place in the 23-man squad just yet, but is expected to be taking due to his versatility.
Carragher has made just 35 appearances for his country since 1999, which was the main reason he retired from international duty.
His lack of international games allowed him to perform day in and day out for Liverpool.
In the last six years, Carragher has played at least 35 games in the league.
In six years, Liverpool have played just 9 league games without Jamie Carragher on the team.
In his last decade at Liverpool, he has just failed to reach a total of over 50 games in one of those seasons.
Carragher turned 32 in January and would be well aware that in four years time at 36 years of age their will be a whole host of younger, fitter and more capable centre-backs available to go to Brazil.
Gabriel Heinze - Argentina
Gabriel Heinze has performed at the top level in the French, English and Spanish leagues.
Heinze won the Premier League with Manchester United, the La Liga with Real Madrid and more recently he was a part of the Marseilles side that won the double.
In 2004, he was on the Argentina side that won gold at the Summer Olympics.
Gabriel Heinze has won a lot of trophies in his career, but the two biggest trophies have evaded him: the Champions League and World Cup.
He has one last shot to in the World Cup this summer in South Africa.
Heinze recently turned 32. He will be 36 when the World Cup hits Brazil and due to Maradona's erratic number of call-ups since taking over Argentina, their are a number of Argentine defenders lying in wait for their chance to go to the next World Cup.