The players who missed out and why
With a long-list that ran to almost 1,000 and a so-called shortlist that approached 500, it is inevitable that some highly celebrated players were going to miss out on our list. Indeed, so tight were the margins that even the slightest tweak in the formula could have seen radical changes to the entrants. Below are the names of those who came closest. Although not all of the names afforded reasons were as high as some of those without, we anticipate that the popularity of specific players will demands responses in terms of omissions. For others, though, there was simply nothing to say other than the fact that there stellar careers missed out by the smallest of margins.
Players who missed out most narrowly
Why he missed out Only did so by a whisker because of the fact his goals never quite translated into true glory.
Why he missed out So gifted. But the elite stages of the game never got to really see it.
Why he missed out A player blessed with the very best technique. Unfortunately, he only ever applied it in instalments at the top level. Beyond that supreme quarter-final against Argentina in 1998, his performances in the top international tournaments and Champions League were at best moderate when placed in the context of his exact qualities. As Johnny Rep argued, “he lacks the hardness to win. Bergkamp is a very big player but he doesn’t have the character in his body.”
Why he missed out another player to miss out narrowly, his performances in the domestic Italian league only slightly costing him.
Why he missed out Undoubtedly transformed the history of Manchester United. But was unfortunate to never be able to bring his best form to Europe nor play at a more opportune time for the French national side. As such, only really enjoyed domestic success in a league that was one of Europe’s most mediocre at the time.
Why he missed out Unfortunately, all of his wondrous ability can only leave us pondering what-ifs
Why he missed out A player of top-class talents but not necessarily top-class positioning or team discipline. Throughout his career there seemed an eternal debate about where his best role was. Because of that, he only ever exerted maximum influence on the 2004-05 and 2008-09 seasons and never an international tournament.
Why he missed out the best player in the world between 2005 and 2007 but that period proved all too brief as injuries took their toll.
Why he missed out Injury robbed him of Manchester United’s crowning glory in 1968 and, like Kenny Dalglish, never fully applied his ability at the top international level.
Why he missed out Hugely productive but not quite prolific enough to match the very, very elite strikers.
Why he missed out highly likely to be in the top half of this list by the end of his career – or possibly the next year. But, as it stands, his exceptional abilities are offset by a selfishness that can prove a liability at the top level. It’s no coincidence that Alex Ferguson’s facilitation of that ego brought the only major trophies of his career.
Why he missed out Could never bring his club record to the international stage
Why he missed out Supremely consistent for Manchester United and occasionally supreme, he did suffer a prolonged dip relative to his abilities between 2003 and 2006 and – for a variety of reasons – never quite translated his true qualities to the international stage.
Why he missed out Played in a Milan team that only won trophies intermittently and faded out too soon.
Why he missed out only belatedly and briefly applied his true ability at Inter having struggled to find proper accommodation at Real Madrid.
Why he missed out A sumptuous player. But decorated tournaments rather than actually decide them.
Why he missed out A victim of timing. Just missed out on his club and country’s glory years.
Why he missed out A surprisingly underwhelming trophy cabinet for such overwhelming ability.
Other notable names on the fringes
Rafael Moreno Aranzadi
Alessandro Del Piero
Luis Del Sol