The World Cup reminded us all that international football can actually be very good.
Forget all the complex mechanics of the new UEFA Nations League, it has thrown up some brilliant fixtures including England v Spain and World champions France v 2014 champs Germany.
Seeing Adil Rami join up with the France squad for the international break got us thinking about all the squad players to win a World Cup that will rarely be remembered.
As we know, Rami’s place in the France squad was primarily for the magical powers his moustache possessed.
But every World Cup there is at least one lucky squad member who was called-up either as a late injury replacement, wildcard choice or because he’s the manager’s favourite.
Here’s a look at some of the most random players to have nabbed a World Cup winners medal in recent years.
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Italy 2006 – Cristian Zaccardo
The Italy team that won it 12 years ago was a truly great side from front to back.
Gig Buffon between the sticks, captain Fabio Cannavaro marshalling the backline, Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo running hings in midfield and a choice of Alessandro Del Piero, Pippo Inzaghi, Luca Toni or Francesco Totti up front – it’s no surprise they won it.
But you might have forgotten about right back Cristian Zaccardo.
He made three appearances at the tournament, but has the unfortunate place in history of being the only player to score an own-goal at a World Cup then win it.
Only made two more international appearances after the tournament and was last seen playing for Hamrun Spartans in Malta, but he’s always have that winners medal.
Spain 2010 – Fernando Llorente
This Spain side will go down as one of the all-time great international teams with two Euro triumphs sandwiching the World Cup success.
The whole philosphy was based on tiki-taka possession football, but when Xavi Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres and co. couldn’t find a way through Fernando Llorente was plan D.
Having been ignored by Vicente Del Bosque in favour of Alvaro Negredo, Llorente was handed a surprise call-up for the 2010 World Cup and made just one appearance for 30 minutes against Portugal.
He won’t go down as a memorable figure in that great team but if anyone tries to rinse him at Spurs training he can just wave his medal in their face.
Germany 2014 – Matthias Ginter
The culmination of Germany’s football revolution saw Bastian Schweinsteiger lifting the World Cup trophy in Brazil in 2014, having pulled off one of the most incredible results in football history by beating Brazil 7-1 in Belo Horizonte.
Unfortunately Matthias Ginter won’t really feel like he contributed to the team’s success.
Just 20 years old at the time and playing as a centre-back for Freiburg, Joachim Low called him up as last resort defensive cover.
He didn’t get a minute in Brazil and then went down in the record books as the only German to go to two World Cups and not play a single minute after his time in Russia this year.
But Ginter’s got a winners medal and Lionel Messi hasn’t.
France 2018 – Florian Thauvin
At least Thauvin actually made it onto the pitch at a World Cup, for exactly one minute in the 4-3 win over Argentina.
But that gives him as much claim to this World Cup win as the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Hugo Lloris.
Thauvin is best remembered for his ill-fated spell at Newcastle but he rebuilt his reputation at Marseille and wangled his way into France’s World Cup squad.
Still only 25, interestingly his best years in a France shirt could actually be in front of him.
READ MORE TO KEEP YOU ENTERTAINED DURING THE INTERNATIONAL BREAK:
- Glenn Murray is responsible for Marcus Bettinelli’s surprising England call-up
- Here’s why Barcelona will NEVER retire the No.10 shirt to honour Lionel Messi
- Why Dominic Calvert-Lewin is defying all the odds this season
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