herald

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Ronaldo joins list of international greats

Cristiano Ronaldo. Pic: Reuters
Cristiano Ronaldo. Pic: Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo became the latest footballing great to win a major international trophy following Portugal's Euro 2016 victory.

Here, The Herald looks at some of the stars of the game who achieved success with their countries, as well as those who failed to.

Success

Pele - Brazil

The Santos striker won three of the four World Cups he played in, beginning with the 1958 tournament in Sweden where, at 17 years and 249 days, he became the youngest player to appear in a final. He also scored two goals in that game and 12 in total across the four tournaments.

Alfredo Di Stefano - Argentina/Spain

Di Stefano, who enjoyed huge success domestically and in the European Cup with Real Madrid, helped his native Argentina to win the South American Championship in 1947. He was, however, denied the opportunity to play at a World Cup. After Argentina did not enter the competition in 1950 and 1954, he briefly represented Colombia before acquiring Spanish citizenship. At the age of 35, he went to the 1962 World Cup with his adopted country but failed to make an appearance.

Franz Beckenbauer - West Germany

Following the disappointment of the 1966 final defeat in Beckenbauer's first World Cup, he took over as captain of the side in 1971 and promptly led the Germans to back-to-back tournament wins. He lifted the 1972 European Championship in Belgium before clinching the World Cup on home soil a couple of years later.

Diego Maradona - Argentina

He will forever be remembered for his 'Hand of God' goal against England, but Napoli's Maradona produced some fantastic displays at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico to inspire his country to glory.

Zinedine Zidane - France

His two headed goals in the 1998 final secured France's first World Cup and he was also an integral part of the successful Euro 2000 squad. 'Zizou' blotted his copybook slightly with his 2006 World Cup final headbutt on Marco Materazzi as France finished runners-up.

 

Failure

Ferenc Puskas - Hungary

The star of Hungary's golden generation, Puskas won Olympic gold with his country in 1952 before guiding them to the World Cup final against West Germany two years later. He scored in that game but, despite the Hungarians beating the Germans 8-3 in the group stage, they lost 3-2. Like Real Madrid team-mate Di Stefano, Puskas later represented Spain and was part of their 1962 World Cup squad, playing three times in that competition.

Eusebio - Portugal

The Benfica striker was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup in England but his nine goals were not enough to fire the Portuguese to glory. A semi-final defeat to the hosts eliminated them but they recovered to take third place with victory over the Soviet Union.

Johan Cruyff - Holland

Cruyff was another great to have come within a whisker of glory. He was captain of his country when they lost 2-1 to West Germany in the final of the 1974 World Cup and again two years later when the Dutch finished third at Euro 1976. He retired from international football ahead of Holland's appearance at the 1978 World Cup finals, where they also finished as runners-up.

George Best - Northern Ireland

The Manchester United star never got a sniff of representing his country on the highest stage. Northern Ireland qualified for just one major tournament during his playing days and, by the time of the 1982 World Cup, Best was 36, past his prime and had not won a cap for five years.

Roberto Baggio - Italy

'The Divine Ponytail' is best remembered for missing the penalty which handed Brazil the 1994 World Cup at Italy's expense. He was also part of the squad which finished third on home soil four years earlier.

Lionel Messi - Argentina

Messi's failure to win a trophy with Argentina has been well publicised. He was agonisingly close on numerous occasions, finishing runner-up at the Copa America in 2007, 2015 and 2016, as well as at the 2014 World Cup, before announcing his international retirement last month.

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