The World Cup has long remained the most prestigious tournament in world football, with many of the best nations and players in the world setting the stage alight through a glorious month of high drama, excitement and tension. It is the pinnacle for any professional footballer to play at the World Cup at some point in their career, with many players grabbing all the headlines through heroic performances and an abundance of quality that sets them apart from the rest. Becoming a World Cup hero requires players to go that extra yard for their country and lead from the front towards glory, although their caused may be helped by moments of fortune or controversy.
Brazil 2014 promises to be one of the best tournaments in modern history, with the standard of football and quality of players continuing to increase every year. This summer’s tournament will see a number of experienced players lead from the front for their county, but there is also a new wave of talent emerging from every continent which have already made their mark in football are poised to set the World Cup alight. Football fanatics can keep tabs on World Cup news here at FootballAction.co.uk which will cover ever moment of Brazil 2014 and highlight players who go down in history as World Cup heroes.
Although it has been 38 years since England lifted the famous Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley, they can attest to having two World Cup heroes who became instant national heroes. Sir Geoff Hurst was a prolific goal-scorer throughout his career for club and country, but he saved the best for last with a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup Final at Wembley against West Germany; he has remained the only player in tournament history to score 3 goals in the Final. Michael Owen is the other player who will be long remembered for the wonder goal he scored against fierce rivals Argentina at France 1998, running from his own half and dribbling past several players before slotting it past the keeper at the tender age of 19. That goal and his performances throughout the tournament transformed Owen into a national and international superstar, with the striker going on to enjoy a wonderful England career.
Brazil holds a proud tradition of producing some of the best football players in the world – none more so than Pele who is regarded as one of the best to ever play the game. He was a shock inclusion at the age of 17 in Brazil’s 1958 World Cup squad to play in Sweden, but quickly demonstrated his unbelievable ability which simply blew everyone away as Brazil won the tournament thanks to his goals and magical skills. Pele shared a long-standing rivalry with Diego Maradona, with fans and pundits split in their opinion as to which one was the best player in the world during the 1970s and 1980s. Maradona remains an iconic figure in Argentina, with his mesmerising goal against England at 1982/1986 remaining one of the best goals ever scored at a World Cup tournament.
Who will become the new World Cup heroes?
While there are arguably hundreds of players over the years could be classed as World Cup heroes, the stage is set for the current generation of players to make a name for themselves and join the elite. There are two players that instantly stand out as players who are simply on another planet to everyone else, but have yet to truly shine in a World Cup tournament. Much will be expected of Lionel Messi as Argentina’s greatest hope, with the magical Barcelona star backed at 7/1 favourite to be the top scorer and finally lay criticism that he is only at his mercurial best at club level to rest. Argentina are widely expected to have a strong chance of winning the World Cup at 5/1, but they will require Messi to be on top form.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the only other player at the same level as Messi, with the 2013 Ballon d’Or winner enjoying another wonderful season at Real Madrid. He will carry the weight of expectation and hope of an entire country on his shoulders to defy Portugal’s 33/1 odds as outsiders to win the World Cup, but if anyone is capable of winning a game on his own, it is Ronaldo. He single-handedly fired Portugal into Brazil 2014 with all four goals in the play-off against Sweden, and is 14/1 to carry his lethal finishing into the World Cup.
Scoring 31 goals in the Premier League is a superb achievement in anyone’s eyes, with Luis Suarez on absolute fire for Liverpool throughout the 2013/2014 season. The diminutive Uruguayan currently leads the race for the European Golden Boot award, and has displayed his full repertoire of finishing – free-kicks, spectacular volleys, long-distance shooting and predator-like finishing in the box all part of Suarez’s all-round game. Despite having the advantage of playing a World Cup in their own continent, Uruguay are considered as dark horses, but if Suarez can justify his wonderful form and top the scoring charts yet again, then it may well be Uruguay’s year.