It’s three weeks until the big kick-off for the 2018 World Cup and excitement is growing for the first ever tournament taking place in Russia – the host country take on Saudi Arabia in the opening fixture, with Tipbet’s odds already available.
The biggest international tournament is always a place for players to become legends, as these examples prove…
The Brazilian and original Ronaldo was a household name for this devastating performances in the late 90s and early 2000s in Europe, but he made perhaps his biggest impact at the 2002 World Cup as his country romped their way to the trophy, making up for the disappointment of 1998 in France.
The striker scored eight times in the 2002 edition and held the record of most goals overall until 2014 with 15. Ronaldo made appearances at three tournaments in total.
Andrea Pirlo will be remembered as one of the most talented and effective central midfielders of his generation and one of the highlights from his glittering career was being instrumental to Italy’s 2006 win at the height of the Calciopoli scandal.
For technical ability there were few players that matched the deep-lying playmaker, and he set the rhythm for all the sides that he featured in. With the 38-year-old now retired, it is not a complete coincidence that the Azzurri have struggled and did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The diminutive Argentinian is widely regarded as one of, if not the, best player of all-time, and his contributions to four World Cups between 1977 and 1994 are why some players rate Maradona above his compatriot Lionel Messi, who was a beaten finalist in 2014 but has another chance in Russia this summer.
He was named player of the tournament in 1986 as the South Americans won the trophy and will always be remembered for his double against England in the quarter-finals, including the “hand of God” goal.
Germany’s 2014 World Cup win was outstanding in itself, but Miroslav Klose also used his fourth tournament to break Ronaldo’s record by taking his tally to 16 goals, coincidentally against Brazil as Die Mannschaft won 7-1 in one of the most incredible knockout games in the World Cup’s history.
Though he lacked the overall game and flamboyancy of Ronaldo, the now-retired striker’s finishing ability means that it is likely to be a while before his record is broken, though Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller is six behind and will play a major role for Germany this summer.
Arguably the most complete and consistent goalkeeper of the past two decades, Gianluigi Buffon is expected to finally retire this summer as Italy failed to make the finals for the first time since 1958. Along with Pirlo the 40-year-old was crucial in 2006 and he made appearances at five separate tournaments.
Pele is perhaps the player most synonymous with the World Cup for his iconic celebration pose from the 1970 tournament, while he remains the only player to have claimed three winners’ medals. The forward managed a remarkable 12 goals from his 14 appearances across the 1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970 editions.