Neymar, Van Dijk, Ferdinand: who are the best players to never win an international trophy?
Winning a major international tournament is about as good as being a professional footballer.
The rarity of the World Cup and continental football festivals means that players have only a small number of opportunities to win international accolades during their careers.
This is what makes competitions like the European Championships and the Copa America so captivating and special.
Only a select few are both talented and lucky enough to win a major international honor in their lifetimes, so it’s no wonder players are visibly distraught when they fall at the final hurdle.
Brazilian star Neymar cried after Argentina’s 1-0 victory over South American rivals in the 2021 Copa America final last Sunday.
He has never won a major international trophy after missing Brazil’s success in the 2019 Copa America with an ankle injury, and at 29 he is running out of opportunities to claim the silverware with the ‘National team.
Saul Niguez at Liverpool OFF❌ Camavinga at Man United OFF❓ Kounde at Tottenham REJECTED❌
But he’s not the only world-class player to fail.
Indeed, many brilliant footballers have failed to add an international tournament winner’s medal to their collection.
To illustrate this point, Squawka created a combined eleven of the best players to never win an international trophy.
Let’s see who makes the cut:
GK: Keylor Navas
The 34-year-old goalkeeper has won numerous trophies during his stints with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, but he’s never had too many chances of winning anything with his national team as an international Costa Rican.
MD: Javier Zanetti
With 143 Argentine caps to his credit, Javier Zanetti is a true legend in his home country but has never managed to crown his career with a major trophy.
DC: Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand was one of the best center-backs in English football history and he played during what many considered a golden generation for the Three Lions.
Although he played alongside John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Michael Owen, Ferdinand never won a trophy as an England international.
DC: Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk still has time to win a trophy with the Netherlands at 30, but their last 16 exit against the Czech Republic at Euro 2020 suggests they are far from competing for the 2022 World Cup in the Qatar.
CEO: Ashley Cole
Another member of England’s Golden Generation, Ashley Cole was considered one of the best left-backs on the planet during his peak years.
His one-on-one abilities made him an impenetrable presence, but his 107 England caps did not yield any trophies.
CDM: Claude Makelele
Claude Makelele’s international career is a story of near misses.
He suffered a defeat in the 2006 World Cup final at the hands of Italy, despite not being part of the France squad which won back-to-back honors in the 1998 World Cup and of Euro 2000.
CM: Luka Modric
Luka Modric racked up 142 caps for Croatia and the closest to winning a major tournament was in 2018 at the World Cup.
After knocking out England in the semi-finals, Croatia found themselves facing big favorites France, and for much of the game they equaled their opponents, but eventually succumbed to the array of talent. offensive from Didier Deschamps in a 4-2 defeat.
CAM: Juan Roman Riquelme
It’s a bold cry from Squawka. Kevin De Bruyne, Steven Gerrard, Wesley Sneijder and Rui Costa were all named as honorable mentions as the ethereal Riquelme got the nod.
The Argentina international lost the 2007 Copa America final to Brazil but won Olympic gold in 2008.
AD: Arjen Robben
Arjen Robben came desperately close to World Cup glory in 2010, but the Netherlands ultimately lost 1-0.
The winger winger missed a glorious opportunity to open the scoring 0-0 in this game and must have regretted that sliding door moment when Andres Iniesta scored the winner deep in extra time.
As previously mentioned, Neymar missed Brazil’s 2019 Copa America triumph due to injury and was left in tears following their 2021 final loss to Argentina in the same competition.
He has scored more goals for Brazil than Pelé, but it will look like a hollow victory for Neymar until he wins a trophy with the national team.
CF: Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba is a true Ivorian legend having scored 65 goals in 105 appearances, but he has somehow never managed to cap his career with an African Cup of Nations victory.
The insatiable striker made two CAN finals but lost them on penalties before Côte d’Ivoire finally won the year after his retirement. Classic.
Here is the full team:
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