Legends who failed on the world stage

Former Manchester United player George Best.
Former Manchester United player George Best. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES


The star of the famed Mighty Magyars in the 1940s and 1950s, the Real Madrid forward was part of the team who lost 2-3 to West Germany in the 1954 World Cup final - the closest he got to an international title.

EUSEBIO (Portugal)

One of the first world-class ethnic African players, the prolific Mozambique-born striker won the Golden Boot with nine goals at the 1966 World Cup but could only lead his country to third place in England.

GEORGE BEST (Northern Ireland)

One of the best dribblers of all time, the winger won the European Cup with Manchester United in 1968 and was named European Footballer of the Year. But he never graced the European Championship or World Cup stage.

JOHAN CRUYFF (Netherlands)

The brain of the famous Total Football system, the three-time Ballon d'Or winner was one of the best players in the 1974 World Cup but lost the final 1-2 to West Germany. Two years later, his brilliance could not push his nation beyond third place at Euro '76.

ZICO (Brazil)

Arguably the world's best player in the 1970s, Zico is considered one of the finest passers and finishers ever. With 48 goals from 71 games for his country, including appearances in three World Cups, he is widely recognised as the best player not to have been on a World Cup or Copa America-winning squad.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2015, with the headline 'Legends who failed on the world stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe