There are some amazing football players, the greatest of great who could never win the World Cup trophy and while this doesn't mean they aren't legends, it does leave us with a strong feeling of what it 'could have been'.
Here is a list of 15 such players.
1. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Lionel Messi and his misfortune of not winning a trophy for Argentina is possibly the most talked about topic of modern-day football. If our worst fears turn out to be true, Lionel Messi will not be playing the next World Cup and hence it will be the trophy that 'the best player to play the game', would never be able to lay his hands on.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
A legend in his own right, Ronaldo has won almost everything as a footballer, except the World Cup trophy. He will be 37 by the time Qatar World Cup is played and it seems unlikely that he will participate in the tournament, even if Portugal qualifies.
Both Portugal and Argentina were eliminated on the same day in the Russia World Cup and with that, the two players who have dominated the game for over a decade went home without getting any further chance to fight for the trophy.
With Ibrahimovic, Sweden did not qualify for the World Cup in 2010 and 2014 and it's only strange that without him, they have reached the quarterfinal this time. He participated in the WC in 2002 and 2006, as well, but the team could only make it to the round of 16, both the times.
4. Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
It was the World Cup of 1974 and Johan Cruyff did something unbelievable and never seen before. It was the 'Cryuff turn', a very important part of modern football. Unfortunately, the person who introduced the concept of 'Total Football' and played a huge role in taking Netherlands to the final couldn't win the trophy for his country, that year or ever.
5. Paolo Maldini (Italy)
One of the greatest defenders in the history of the game, Maldini's club career with AC Milan was decorated with several Champions League titles. However, he couldn't find the same luck with Italy in the World Cup; because out of his four appearances in the tournament, the country reached the final only once in 1994, and lost it to Brazil.
6. Zico (Brazil)
1978 was the first time Zico represented his country on the biggest platform, but that was Argentina's year. In 1982, he appeared again and this time he was at the peak of his form, but an early upset at the hands of Italy saw the team bowing out in the second round. And then it was the 1986 World Cup, the year of Maradona and his Hand of God. Even the heavens were conspiring for Argentina to win that year.
And that is how the Brazilian great, the 'white Pele' could never win a World Cup trophy.
7. Oliver Kahn (Germany)
Oliver Kahn became the only goalkeeper to win Golden Ball in the World Cup, after he led his side to the final in 2002 with five clean sheets. But that wasn't enough. Ronaldo, with his two goals made sure that Brazil go home with the trophy and Kahn goes back with a life-long regret. He was part of the German squad in 1998 and 2006, too, but did not win the trophy.
8. Michel Platini (France)
Platini played in three World Cups- 1978, 1982 and 1986, but the farthest France could go in those tournaments was the semifinals in 1982 and 1986. Le Roi was France's record goalscorer until 2007 but could never win the World Cup. The semifinals of the 1982 where France met West Germany is still considered to be one of the great matches in the history of the tournament.
9. Michael Ballack (Germany)
The former German captain is among the top goal scorers in the history of the country's national team. He scored consecutive game-winning goals in the quarterfinal and the semifinal, help Germany reach the final in 2002. He also led his team to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup, which they lost to Italy. Despite being an excellent performer, he couldn't take his team over the line and never laid his hands on the WC trophy.
10. George Best (Northern Ireland)
The Northern Irish winger and Manchester United legend never participated in the World Cup because of his team's collective performance and deteriorating fitness. He was dubbed as the 'Fifth Beatle' and is described as the 'greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland'. It's unfortunate he did not even get the chance to fight for the most prestigious football trophy.
11. Roberto Baggio (Italy)
He represented Italy in the World Cup, 3 times- 1990 when they finished 3rd, 1994 when they reached the final and 1998 when they reached the quarterfinals.
He was hugely responsible for team's success, especially in 1994, the year he scored 5 goals in the competition. However, his infamous penalty miss at the final against Brazil got him a lot of criticism as Italy fell short of achieving their dreams for the third consecutive time.
12. Eusebio (Portugal)
Thanks to his 4 goals in 30 minutes against North Korea, Eusebio was the only player people were talking about after the quarterfinals of 1966 WC. He was the top goal-scorer of that edition, and led Portugal to a third-place finish. Even though they could not win, it remains to be their best World Cup performance of Portugal.
13. Luís Figo (Portugal)
Another Portuguese in the list, Figo participated in 2 World Cups and took his country to the semifinals in 2006 but lost the match. He is widely considered to be the greatest players of his generation but could never find World Cup success.
14. Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)
Germany's upset of the 'Magnificent Magyars' Hungary in 1954 is called 'Miracle of Bern' for a reason. That was the golden team of Hungary and Puskas was their best player, but thanks to Rahn's winning goal in the 84th minute, they suffered the defeat that no one expected or wanted to witness.
15. Alfredo di Stefano (Argentina, Colombia and Spain)
Stefano's life as a footballer is a proof of how cruel fate can be. Despite playing for three countries, he never got to play in the World Cup. From failure at the qualification level to the FIFA-enforced ban and then an injury, nothing worked in his favour. The legend who saw great success at the club level, always fell short at the biggest platform of football, despite repeated sincere efforts.
Other notable names in the list are Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Paul Gascoigne.