The best players NOT going to the World Cup: Part 1 – Goalkeepers and defenders

With managers of most of the 32 World Cup nations naming their squads, or at least their provisional squads, I decided to take a look at some of the players missing out on this summer’s tournament in South Africa.

As so much top talent will be left at home, I felt it only fair to make a 23-man squad of players who won’t be on the plane for the footballing showpiece of the summer.

The midfielders and forwards will follow, but first I will run you through some of the goalkeepers and defenders who will have to watch the tournament on television.

Goalkeeper -Quim (Portugal)

After years of playing backup to Ricardo, the veteran Benfica ‘keeper might have hoped to finally take his chance between the sticks for Portugal. However, after starting his country’s qualifying campaign as first choice, he has gradually slipped further and further down the reckoning, eventually missing out on Carlos Queiroz’s squad altogether

Goalkeeper – Sebastien Frey (France)

After Gregory Coupet’s unconvincing showing at the 2008 European Championships, the French #1 jersey seemed up for grabs. Some earmarked Frey, enjoying his football at Fiorentina, as the man to step up to the plate. It was not to be, though, as Hugo Lloris’ stellar form has seen the Lyon stopper installed as first choice. Considering the other names in the provisional squad, it looks like coach Raymond Domenech has been happy to turn only to goalkeepers playing their football in Ligue 1.

Goalkeeper – Shay Given (Republic of Ireland)

I have been reluctant to include players whose nations failed to qualify for the tournament, but the manner of Ireland’s elimination means I feel Given  deserves a mention. Only a great injustice prevented the Manchester City ‘keeper from having a chance to test himself against the world’s best. Although he may get another opportunity in 2014, he is currently at the peak of his powers and will surely be a great loss to the tournament as a spectacle.

Right-back – Javier Zanetti (Argentina)

Eyebrows were raised four years ago when Argentina manager Jose Pekerman left Javier Zanetti out of his World Cup squad. The former national skipper, who captains his club side Internazionale, was felt by many to be a better option than Lionel Scaloni, and many would favour Zanetti now over a number of the names in Diego Maradona’s squad. It seems Maradona’s penchant for playing four centre-backs has worked against Zanetti who, at the age of 36, will not get another shot at World Cup glory in his career.

Right-back – Cicinho (Brazil)

When he burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s, Cicinho looked like the natural heir to Cafu as Brazil’s marauding right-back. Unfortunately he didn’t count on two things: Dani Alves and Maicon. It’s not every day you see two world-class right-backs storm past you on the outside and destroy your international future, but that is what has happened to the Roma defender.

Left-back – Davide Santon (Italy)

A few eyebrows were raised when Italy coach Marcello Lippi opted not to include any Inter players in his squad. If the omission of temperamental striker Mario Balotelli was not altogether surprising, many will have expected young full-back Santon to get the nod. The 19-year-old has already established himself as a regular at club level, and might have expected to add to his five international caps in South Africa, but Lippi has gone with the experience of Gianluca Zambrotta and Fabio Grosso as he bids for glory this summer.

Left-back – Roberto Carlos (Brazil)

With Jamie Carragher returning to the England set-up after previously retiring from international football, it looked as though the Corinthians left-back Roberto Carlos was set to do the same. A return to the Brazilian league brought the former Real Madrid man to the attention of national team coach Dunga, with whom he played in the 1998 World Cup, but Carlos ended up falling just short in the final reckoning.

Centre-back – Gabriel Milito (Argentina)

One of the more mystifying omissions, Milito is widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world. Barcelona paid an eight-figure fee for the left-footed defender, who has 32 caps for his country, and yet he failed to make the grade in a squad including players like Fabricio Coloccini who ply their trade in Englands second tier. Only Diego Maradona knows why Gabriel Milito will not be lining up against Nigeria.

Centre-back – Christoph Metzelder (Germany)

Metzelder’s injury problems have been well-documented, but even that didn’t stop him from playing all of Germany’s games at Euro 2008. He misses out this time though, and will hope a move to Schalke from Real Madrid will help him turn over a new leaf in a career decimated by months on the sidelines.

Centre-back – Phil Jagielka (England)

Just over a year ago, Phil Jagielka looked certain to be included in England’s World Cup squad, but then he suffered a horrific injury when playing for his club Everton against Manchester City. Despite looking just as composed after his return, Jagielka has slipped down the pecking order, perhaps proving a victim of his own versatility. Unfortunately at the age of 28, and with young talent like Gary Cahill emerging from elsewhere, the former Sheffield United man may have missed his only World Cup chance.

Centre-back – Marco Materazzi (Italy)

It will come as sad news to some, and as a relief to others, but Marco Materrazzi will not be renewing his love-hate relationship with the World Cup viewing public this summer. It is four years since the eccentric centre-back took centre-stage in the final against France, and this World Cup has proved one tournament too far. Which means we won’t get the opportunity to see anything like this again:



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ciaran Jones, Tom Victor. Tom Victor said: blogged – the best players not going to the world cup #worldcup2010 […]

  2. […] The best players NOT going to the World Cup: Part 1 – Goalkeepers and defenders […]

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