While the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona, and Michel Platini enriched soccer’s greatest tournament, there have been many legendary players who failed to feature in the World Cup. Here is a look at those who were born in 1960 or later.
1. Eric Cantona (France)
Eric Cantona is infamous for his bad-boy attitude. After a clash with his coach Henri Michel, he was evicted from the squad that played in the qualifiers for the 1990 World Cup. Although he generated a remarkable comeback over the next six years, Cantona missed out on the 1998 World Cup after the “kung fu” incident and also because of the presence of a (then) youngster named Zinedine Zidane.
2. Abedi Pele (Ghana)
Abedi Pele (aka Abedi Ayew) had a remarkable presence that shook Europe in the early 90s. Playing for Olympique Marseille, he picked up the first ever Champions League trophy as well as three Ligue 1 titles. Although Pele never had the opportunity to showcase himself at a World cup, he was named the African Player of the Year three times and won the 1982 African Cup of Nations trophy.
3. Ian Rush (Wales)
For almost two decades, Ian Rush had been an exceptionally creative striker for FC Liverpool. Although Wales didn’t played in any major tournaments during his reign, Rush scored 28 international goals, a record that Gareth Bale broke only this year (2018).
4. Jari Litmanen (Finland)
Without a shadow of a doubt, Jari Litmanen is Finland’s best player ever. The attacking midfielder spent quality time at Ajax, where he won a Champions League title and numerous domestic medals. Despite his personal excellence, though, he was unable to carry the Finnish national team to a World Cup.
5. Kazuyoshi Miura (Japan)
Kazuyoshi Miura is an Asian soccer legend and deservedly so. His career began in Brazil, something that has been difficult for non-natives to accomplish, and paved the way for many of today’s Asian players. He scored 55 goals in 89 appearances for the national team, and helped them qualify for the 1998 World Cup. He was shockingly left out of the final squad, however (possibly because of his age), and Japan went on to lose all three matches.
6. George Weah (Liberia)
George Weah was one the greatest African soccer players of all time. He was a fan favorite in France, Italy, and England, and won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1995. On the international stage, however, he really never had an opportunity to shine as he played for a nation that is yet to reach its first World Cup.
7. Ryan Giggs (Wales)
Ryan Giggs is one of the most adored players in the history of soccer. He spent his entire career at Manchester United (25 seasons!), where he collected several individual and club awards. As with most players on this list, Giggs, as part of the Welsh national team, wasn’t lucky enough to be surrounded by great team members. On the international stage, he appeared 64 times and scored 12 goals.