Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dual exit from the World Cup should have reminded everyone that football is a team game.
Instead, both had their legacies questioned by some some of the more cynical fans and pundits out there.
The absence of a World Cup medal in the five-time Ballon d’Or winners’ strained trophy cabinets obviously means they are one level below the true greats: Diego Maradona, Pele, Kleberson…
If this is your stance, then here are nine other legends you now have to disregard when discussing ‘true greats’…
1 Johan Cruyff
Sure, he may revolutionised football as both a player and a manager, but West Germany beat Netherlands in 1974 final so it’s tier two for Mr Total Football.
Silly us, we previously thought of him as perhaps the greatest European player ever, but now we’ve been made aware of the World Cup rule, we recognise our error in judgement.
2 Paolo Maldini
Good thing Italy ditched the greatest defender of all time in 2002, eh?
Without him holding them back with his unparalleled understanding of the game, the Azzurri managed to win the very next World Cup.
Pretty obvious causation there, don’t you agree? Certainly so other factors to consider…
3 George Best
Born in Belfast? That’s your fault, mate.
One of the most entertaining and naturally gifted players to ever grace a pitch never even played in a World Cup.
He must have been really s**t…
4 Ferenc Puskas
84 goals in 85 international games? Didn’t do it when it mattered though, did you?
The Real Madrid legend foolishly only scored one goal in the 1954 World Cup final as Hungary were upset by West Germany — only one!
They should change the name of the Puskas award to honour a true great, a World Cup winner, how about Stephane Guivarc’h?
5 Alfredo Di Stefano
Di Stefano played international football for Argentina, Colombia and Spain.
And he was a fraud for all three! Apparently…
Pele may have once called him the best player ever and he may have been instrumental in Real Madrid winning the European Cup five times in a row, but we can erase him from football history if you like?
No World Cup and all that…
A great Brazilian who didn’t win the World Cup? Doesn’t exist. mate.
One of the greatest goalscoring midfielders of all time will be devastated to hear that the legendary Brazil side of 1982’s failure to lift the trophy has severely damaged his legacy.
Tell you what, this football lark is much easier to get your head around when you just look at who did and didn’t win a World Cup.
We’ve wasted so much time actually watching the games over the years.
7 Marco van Basten
When did you score that volley? Final of the Euros? Might as well have been a friendly.
Didn’t win the World Cup did you? The big one.
Hand back your three Ballon d’Ors and we’ll dish them out to some decent players like Roque Junior, Bernard Diomade and Simone Barone.
8 Michel Platini
Spent half his career playing against farmers and was carried by his Juventus team-mates in the other half.
That’s not what the history books say but it must be the truth because he NEVER WON THE WORLD CUP!
Elegance, technical ability, vision, creativity… none of it matters when there’s a giant goose egg next to the World Cup section on your Wikipedia page.
The Portuguese legend only played in one World Cup, and he plundered nine goals from it.
But because Portugal didn’t win it in 1966 we can safety conclude that he never did it on the big stage for his country.
How are we doing, is this right?