The failure of Holland and Chile to qualify for the 2018 World Cup led to many fans writing their best eleven of players who won’t be in Russia next year. This led to a debate on social media of some of the all time great individuals who never got the chance to play at such a tournament. So for a bit of fun I thought I would rack my brain and come up with an Arsenal 11 who never played at a World Cup. I’m going off my 30 years existence but any of you old enough to remember watching a Liam Brady play, comment below. Only rules are, they can’t be currently playing for Arsenal (eg Ramsey). Just a bit of fun….. this is what happens when you have nothing to do but watch England for 2 weeks.. I have gone for a 3-2-4-1 formation lol
Poland have just qualified automatically for Russia, got to the quarter finals of Euro 216 and can claim to being the 5th best team in the world (if you take FIFA rankings seriously). So you could say this is some sort of a ‘golden generation’ for the Poles having missed the previous two World Cups Szczęsny left us permanently in the summer to play for Juventus but having only played in two games so far in Serie A he may start next summer as back up to another former gunner Lukas Fabianski. If being favorites to win a tournament was based on self belief alone though Szczesny would win the golden glove.
A constant in one of the most famous back fours ever produced by an English club side, it seems bizzare that a national manager wouldn’t have been more tempted to take advantage of their understanding (especially at a time when they were winning silverware). This was one of many mistakes the late Graham Taylor made when landing the ‘impossible job’. Failure to qualify for USA 94 meant our legendary back four being overlooked doesn’t get mentioned.
I could just say read Lee Dixon but at least he entered double figures when it came to caps. Arsene Wenger’s current assistant got just the two, just a mere 64 less then Tony Adams got despite being a partnership for club for nearly a decade.
I could have pointed out that another member of our legedary back four Nigel Winterburn only got two caps.
Instead I chose to acknowlege how a bad injury in 2001 undermined Sylvinho’s development at a time when he acted as a backup to Roberto Carlos in the left-back position. It was his absence which encouraged Arsene Wenger to hand a chance to a certain young prospect named Ashley Cole, who did so well that by the time the Brazilian regained fitness he was surplus to requirements. He rebuilt his reputation is Spain going on to win two Champions Leagues with Barcelona as a squad player
Okay no disgrace not to be able to break into Brazil’s 2002 winning World Cup midfield (although Kleberson somehow did?)
Edu simply makes this list for being one of the few ‘Invincibles’ never to play in a World Cup. His success with Arsenal did get him recognition in his homeland, getting called up in 2004 and winning both the Copa America and the Confederations cup.
He had given up believing he ever earn a cap to such an extent he strongly considered playing for England when gaining his British passport.
Normally winning 12 major honours while playing more Premiership games for Arsenal then any man in history would be enough criteria to get you into a world cup sqaud, it’s not like Engalnd are a good enough nation to be putting their noses up to that. The fact then that the ‘Romford Pele’ only ended up with 10 caps further underlines how he’s one of the most under-rated players of all time. To be fair he was competing with some pretty glamourous names but surely if Arsene Wenger trusts him then he must offer something?
If we ever need reminding how the Spanish team (2008-2012) were the greatest of our lives then we can point out how Arteta never got a single cap. Heck even in all of their years of under achievement he never came close. Born anywhere else he surely would have gone to many tournaments. A campaign even started to get him to play for England based on how long he had lived here although that was ruled out as he had played for the Spanish under 16’s before he qualified for a British passport.
A bit unfair as Belarus never really got close to qualifying for a World Cup but their best chance probably was when Hleb was in the prime of his career. He never played in a major tournament for his country but seemed to achieve everything else for his nation, winning their player of the year 6 times and becoming the first Belarus to ever play in a Champions League final.
His plan to compete with Messi for a place in Barcelona’s attack proved a bit too ambitious and his career never really recovered
Arshrvin became the poster boy for Russian football after being one of the stars of Euro 2008 which saw them reach the semi final. It was these displays which convinced Arsene Wenegr to make him at the time our record signing. Meanwhile such was his celebrity back in his homeland he played a massive part in their bid to win the right to host the World Cup next year. That though will be the closest Arshavin will ever get to being at a World Cup as he was part of a losing play off to qualify for South Africa 2010 and omitted from the squad that featured in Bazil 2014. No Russian team since and most likely won’t for a long time play the free flowing attractive football Russia did in 2008, led by Arshavin.
Given that he earnt over 40 caps and played in two European Championship’s it’s fair to say that Nasri didn’t fulfill his potential with his national team. The French press often used Nasri as an example of the trouble France had transitioning from their golden generation to younger talent who were perceived not to have the right attitude.
Nasri’s form and undoubted talent would be undermined by his attitude, senior players critising him at Euro 2008 while such was his conduct towards the press at Euro 2012, the French Football Federation banned him for three games. Feeling that he was overlooked for two World Cups based on his unwanted bad boy image rather then what he was achieving on the pitch, he incredibly retired from international football at the age of just 27.
Despite it being Bobby Robson and Glen Hoddle as the only two managers who ever had control in fulfilling his World Cup dream, Ian Wright has never hid his disappointment at the way his goal scoring record was ignored by Graham Taylor. Anyone who has read his autobiography will know that Wright strongly feels he would have fired us to the World Cup in 1994 if given a chance. While always acknowledging the strong competition he had up front, Wright rightly points out that this was a period where he was wining golden boots and medals. Ironically Taylor would play Wright in his final game when he needed to win by a 7 goal margin to have an outside chance of avoiding elimination. Wright scored 4 goals that night