For 736 players, years of hard work and sacrifice are about to pay off with a trip to represent their country in the 2014 World Cup. However, for every player that made a 23-man roster there are others left behind wondering what went wrong and how they didn’t make the list themselves.
Among that group are players who just didn’t have enough time to get back from injury, had a personality clash with the coach or simply couldn’t get on with national team management. It has led a few to reassess their international playing careers and altered courses of careers.
For 10 such players, missing out on the 2014 World Cup was a big surprise, and we give you the the 10 biggest snubs as rosters were finalized for this upcoming World Cup.
10. Carolos Tevez (Argentina)
Tevez was on a tear in Serie A in the 2013-14 campaign, ending the season in second place in the league in goal scoring (19). However, the 30-year-old’s exclusion from the 23-man roster was perhaps the least surprising of all the “snubs,” as Tevez hasn’t appeared in an Argentina roster since 2011. Manager Alejandro Sabella and Tevez have never seen eye-to-eye, and it cost Tevez perhaps his last chance to represent his country at a World Cup. There is also the fact that there are names like Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero are also available for selection as forwards.
9. Kaka (Brazil)
When you export talent to leagues all over the world, someone is bound to get left out in the cold when it comes time to put together a 23-man roster. However, when you are a former Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year (2007), you’re exclusion will draw attention. It doesn’t help when you play a position (attacking midfield) that features other options like Oscar, Bernard, Willian and Hernanes to pick from. Kaka reached the 100-goal mark for AC Milan in the just completed season, however his age and lack of time in the Brazilian setup over the last few years also worked against his inclusion in the side. Such is the brutal nature of coming from a country that produces world-class players like most produce money.
8. Ashley Cole (England)
A 33-year-old missing out on a World Cup for a side like England shouldn’t be overly surprising. However, given the lack of experienced options for the Three Lions in the back, it was a bit shocking that Cole wasn’t selected to participate in the 2014 World Cup. That is until you realize that former stalwart made just 17 appearances in a Chelsea shirt this last Premier League season. Clearly Cole is on the downswing of his overall career. In the end, it also led to his official retirement from international soccer after 107 appearances for England.
7. Landon Donovan (United States)
The legend of Landon Donovan is a strong one, so strong that two weeks after his exclusion from the final 23-man roster people in the general sporting public are still talking about it in the United States. However, there are plenty of reasons we should’ve all seen this move coming, and while Donovan will go down as the best player the United States has ever produced, the last few years of results and off-field shenanigans likely sealed his fate for a trip to Brazil. Seriously, who goes on sabbatical in the middle of a club season and World Cup qualifying and returns at his own will expecting to be welcomed back with no consequences? In fact, Will Leitch of SportsOnEarth.com hit it out of the park in pointing out exactly where Donovan’s place is globally versus his reputation here in America.
6. Ever Banega (Argentina)
It’s safe to say manager Alejandro Sabella and Frank Sinatra are kindred spirits, because the two sure do things their own way. Sabella not only has put Carlos Tevez in international timeout, but he also decided he didn’t need one of the most in-form and in-his-prime players Argentina had at its disposal. Banega, unlike Tevez, has been a mainstay in Sabella’s setup for World Cup qualifying. He made 10 appearances over the course of COMNEBOL World Cup qualifying. In fact, Banega was one of just three players not named Messi, Higuain or Aguero to score in the process of taking first in South American qualifying. Instead, it appears Banega was left out because of a numbers game, with Sabella preferring an extra forward for his favored 4-3-3 formation.
5. Samir Nasir (France)
When you unleash a verbal tongue-lashing to the media who covers you for a living, it’s safe to say you’ve got some graveling to do before you’re coming back to a team, any team. After France failed in epic fashion during Euro 2012, Nasri went on a verbal tirade against the gathered media and for manager Didier Deschamps the choice to exclude him was made virtually that infamous day. It also doesn’t hurt that since his exclusion Les Bleus have been in good form. Still, the fact that Nasri wasn’t even considered for the provisional roster is an offense to how good of a player he’s been for Manchester City. Could his exclusion for a two-year-old tirade cost France a chance at the World Cup?
4. Ricardo Quaresma (Portugal)
FC Porto is one of the most supported teams in Portugal, and arguably one of its best players in the just-completed season won’t be going to the 2014 World Cup. Quaresma was in-form for Porto from his signing in early January to the end of the season. The midfielder made 14 appearances for the club, scoring four goals in the process. Further making this exclusion a bit head scratching is that Seleccao manager Paulo Bento decided to take injury-risk Nani instead of the in-form Quaresma. It marks the second straight World Cup exclusion for the 30-year-old Quaresma.
3. Mario Gomez (Germany)
Sure, he spent most of the 2013-14 season dealing with a knee injury that limited him to just nine games and three goals for new club side Fiorentina in Serie A, but Gomez has been important to the German squad for some time now. Besides, it has to come as a particularly bitter blow to Gomez that German manager Joachim Low couldn’t even be bothered to include the 28-year-old forward in the provisional roster. Oh, and add in the fact that only one outright striker, Miroslav Klose (who is struggling with his own injury issues) made the 23-man roster and you can see why Gomez’s exclusion was massively head-scratching.
2. Giuseppe Rossi (Italy)
This American-born, Italian-playing forward is easily one of the biggest surprises to not be making a trip to the 2014 World Cup. Sure Rossi suffered a reoccurrence of a knee ligament injury and missed most of the second half of the Serie A season, but he also returned late in the club season and got right to doing what he does best—score goals. Given the fact that the Azzurri appeared to have a lack of options to score goals outside of Mario Balotelli, Rossi could’ve been a big option to have at the Italian setup’s disposal. I mean, all the guy did was score 16 goals in 22 appearances for club side Fiorentina.
Rossi was less than pleased with his exclusion, especially given the suggestions he was uneasy about physical battles with defenders, and took to Twitter to express those thoughts.
1. Sunday Mba (Nigeria)
This may not be a name most American’s are overly familiar with, but to those who follow the game closely Mba’s exclusion from the final 23-man roster may have been the biggest eyebrow-raiser of the 2014 World Cup roster announcements. Mba plies his trade with Bastia in Italy (a rarity for Nigerians) and was the hero of Nigeria’s 1-0 win in the final of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. Sure, he had some travel document issues that precluded him from joining Nigeria’s camp on time ahead of the 2014 World Cup and cost him the Scotland friendly in the process—but, the guy is a sharpshooter, and you can never have too many of them at your disposal. The Super Eagles made some surprising omissions in the provisional squad, and it continued in Mba’s exclusion from his first World Cup.