David Beckham – 2010
The World Cup is yet to be played in South Africa but Beckham is sure to watch the game on the sidelines having injured his Achilles tendon earlier this year while playing for AC Milan.
Beckham has played the last three World Cups and England’s most capped player will be sad to miss out on a country record 4th appearance.
Emerson – 2002
He was Brazil’s skipper throughout the qualifying campaign in the run up to the Japan/Korea World Cup in 2002. He unfortunately never got to lift the trophy his team eventually won having dislocated his shoulder in a practice match couched by Big Phil. This meant that it was Cafu and not Emerson who led the South Americans to their record fifth World Cup.
Santiago Canizares – 2002
This Spanish hot shot-stopper missed out the 2002 World Cup in the most bizarre injury incident after dropping a bottle of aftershave in his bathroom sink which, with a shard of glass, severed his big toe’s tendon. That injury ruled him out for the entire tournament, much the disbelief of his Spanish side.
The injury however served somewhat good news for second fiddle keeper Iker Casillas, giving him a chance to shine with two penalty saves against the Republic of Ireland in the tournament’s second round shoot-out.
Rene Bliard – 1958
It was Rene Bliard’s injury during training in the run up to the 1958 World Cup in Sweden that resulted in the still-to-date-running history of the most goals scored in a single World Cup by a player – Just Fontaine. Rene, the French striker was injured as his team prepared for the tournament, leaving Fontaine to take the attacking mantle for his country. The guy went on to score for fun.
Kenny Dalglish – 1986
‘King Kenny’ was without a doubt Scotland’s best player for many years and even when he coached Liverpool as player/manager at 35 leading the Merseyside to a memorable double, Danglish was still phenomenal on the pitch. So how did the King miss out on the grandest stage of 1986?
A mysterious call on the eve of the tournament from Kenny to the then manager, Sir Alex Ferguson saying he had pulled a ligament injury did it. Rumors however persist that it was the leaving out of the squad of Kenny’s best mate Alan Hansen that made Kenny pull out. Dalglish’s relationship with Sir Alex has since been sour.
Roberto Bettega – 1982
He was the talismanic, outstanding player that every Italian had put hopes on if they were to win the 1982 tournament. But the amazing Juventus forward never made it on stage as the Azzuri lifted the title for the third time having injured his knee ligament in a European tournament match. His country knew it missed him. But the Italians won it still.
Marco Van Basten – 1994
He is highly regarded in his home country of Holland and he knew how important he was to Johan Cruyff’s team for the 1994 World Cup staged in the US. But a yearlong injury meant the Dutch captain was never to play for his team, subsequently quitting the game for good the following year.
He never recovered to make to the pitch.
Romario – 1998
The Romario-Ronaldo striking force had made Brazil the favorites in the run up to France 1998. But that was before Coach Zagallo surprised the world by leaving out Romario from the squad on the eve of the Show, citing a muscular pull. This infuriated the entire Brazilian nation. The forward insisted the pull was minor and that he would have recovered in time for the second round games but Zagallo had none of it.
Alfredo di Stefano – 1962
He has the record of representing 3 different countries on an international game but he never played in the World Cup finals. His last attempt was in 1962 for Spain, his adopted home country, when the Real Madrid maestro injured a muscular tendon. This meant he would once again be a spectator on footballs grandest stage.
Daniel Passarella – 1986
He was Argentina’s maestro, the force behind the blazing attack that included the legendary Diego Maradona. But the inspirational captain was mysteriously left out of the squad supposedly due to a diarrhoea. Most of the world did not buy it, and even though everyone was happy to see Maradona get the armband, it was the benching of Daniel Passarella that stands out as the biggest World Cup player misses.