Players are frequently judged only on the basis of the prizes they have won, yet tremendous talent does not automatically imply great success.
The FIFA World Cup and the Euros, for example, are held every four years, making winning a big international prize much more difficult.
Lionel Messi’s stature has risen recently as a result of Argentina’s Copa America victory, but some famous players have yet to win an international trophy.
Let’s take a look at five legendary players who left the game without winning an international championship.
7. Ashley Cole
It wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t add a member of England’s ill-fated ‘Golden Generation,’ and Cole appears to be the perfect option as the best left-back in the world during his prime.
6. Ferenc Puskas
The Hungarian national team of the 1950s, widely regarded as one of the best ever, went four years without losing a match – and Puskas was their main player.
Then along came Helmut Rahn, who scored twice in West Germany’s 1954 World Cup victory over Hungary, leaving Puskas without any international honors.
5. Johan Cruyff
The Netherlands won Numerous trophies, but none with his country Cruyff shined during the 1974 World Cup, but his only World Cup appearance ended in sadness when the Netherlands were defeated in the final by West Germany.
He made up for what he lacked on the world scene with three European Cups and nine Dutch crowns.
As manager of Barcelona, he also won the European Cup and four other trophies
With Eusebio romping his way to the Golden Boot in the 1966 World Cup, Portugal made it all the way to the semi-finals, but the Selecao’s sensational front-line couldn’t quite go all the way in England.
3. Michael Ballack
The former German player, many times the loser.
He dragged Germany to the 2002 World Cup final, but a suspension in the semi-final forced him to watch from the stands as Brazil triumphed 2-0.
He was captain in 2008 when Spain beat Germany in the European Championship final, while at club level he was twice the runner-up in the Champions League, with Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea.
He did win six major club honours at Bayern Munich, however, as well as the League Cup and three FA Cups.
2. Paolo Maldini
Because of his dismal Italy record, which includes losing a World Cup final on penalties and a Euros final courtesy to a ‘Golden Goal,’ Maldini was been dubbed “football’s biggest loser.”
Raul has captained the Spanish national team and scored 44 goals in 102 appearances, but unfortunately for him, this was before La Roja started winning trophies for fun.
His last international appearance was on 6 September 2006 against Northern Ireland, two years before his teammates went on to win the European Championship for the first time since 1964.