The World Cup is the most watched sporting event on the planet and the most illustrious international football tournament on Earth. There have been 20 tournaments to date, and it’s winners include the likes of Diego Maradona, Pele and Zinedine Zidane.
Not everyone who wins the World Cup is an all time great, though, and today we celebrate some of the more limited footballing talent who have picked up World Cup winners medals over the past 90 years. The World Cup has never been won by a poor team, meaning every World Cup winner has been good enough to get in a top international team, so none of them were truly awful players - just maybe a little out of place among the pantheon of great World Cup winners.
Here are our 7 worst World Cup winners
7. Junior - Brazil
The Brazilians have almost always had an embarrassment of riches in terms of the nation’s attacking options, but their defence hasn’t always been as reliable. When they won the World Cup in 2002, Brazil had two world class full-backs in Cafu and Roberto Carlos, but it was their backup for the left-back spot that takes seventh place here. Jenilson Angelo de Souza, better known simply as Junior, won 22 caps for his country as Carlos’ deputy. In many respects, Junior was a poor man's Carlos. He was renowned for his pace and stamina, and he also had a pretty fierce left foot. Junior was brilliant on the ball, but if we’re being honest, he really wasn’t very good at defending, and that’s why he makes this seven. The attacking full-back was playing for Parma at the time, but returned to Brazil in 2004.
6. Claudio Borghi - Argentina
Chile's head coach Claudio Borghi looks on prior to friendly football match between Chile and Serbia on November 14, 2012 at the AFG Arena in St Gallen. AFP PHOTO
Claudio Borghi’s playing history tells the tail of a journeyman who never really settled or made a meaningful impression at a club, possibly with the exception of Argentinos Juniors. Borghi was actually a very talented footballer, but he never managed to make good on that potential. As a forward or attacking midfielder, he watched on as Diego Maradona put in some of the finest individual displays of footballing genius that the world has ever seen. Borghi was 21 when Argentina won the World Cup, and he never represented his country again. He was playing in Switzerland by the age of 23, as he quickly fell off the footballing map. Despite his obvious talents at a young age, we think Borghi deserves his place here.
5. Luizao - Brazil
Another South American journeyman, Luiz Bombonato Goulart, better known as Luizao, made Brazil’s squad for the 2002 World Cup after a purple patch of form at Corinthians. In a squad with no shortage of attacking flair and brilliance, it's not unfair to say Luizao looked more than a little out of place. An occasionally prolific centre-forward who could be a danger in the air, Luizao failed in two attempts to make it in Europe. He played twice at the 2002 finals, replacing Ronaldo after the Real Madrid man had already scored on both occasions. He never played for Brazil again, and within a few years, he was playing for Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan.
4. Bernard Diomede - France
22 Jul 2000: Bernard Diomede of Liverpool in action during a pre-season friendly match against Stoke City at the Brittania Stadium in Stoke, England. Stoke City won the match 1-0. \...
A quick, tricky and dangerous wide man during his time at Auxerre, Bernard Diomede made a very talented French squad for the 1998 World Cup. From Desailly and Thuram in defence, Vieira and Zidane in midfield and Henry and Trezeguet in attack, France were always likely to be dangerous opponents on home soil. Among those unquestionable French legends, Bernard Diomede’s name maybe looks a little out of place. He started two group games and a round of sixteen match for his country, but played no further part after that, as his team mates went on to beat Brazil in the final to claim their first world title. Diomede then joined Liverpool, where he played two league games in three years, and by the age of 31, he was playing in the French lower leagues.
3. Jair Marinho - Brazil
There are three Brazilian players in this seven, which may seem a little harsh, but given that the country has won the World Cup five times - more than any other nation - it is perhaps to be expected. Likewise, in a list of the greatest World Cup winners of all time, Brazilians would be equally prevalent. Jair Marinho was part of Brazil's 1962 World Cup winning squad, where he was Brazil's back-up right-back to Djalma Santos.
He was solid enough in his time with Fluminense and Corinthians, but distinctly average, and never featured at the 1962 World Cup, although he did later win four caps for his country.
2. Heinz Kwiatkowski - West Germany
Going into the 1954 World Cup, West Germany’s problem position was between the sticks. Their best goalkeeper was Manchester City shot stopper Bert Trautmann, but since he played outside of Germany, he was unavailable for selection. Toni Turek was coach Sepp Herberger’s number one, but he rotated his squad heavily for a group game against Hungary. Uncapped Dortmund ‘keeper Kwiatkowski got the nod, and he conceded eight goals. Herberger didn’t mind, the defeat meant they’d play Yugoslavia instead of Brazil in the first knockout round, and they’d managed to injure Ferenc Puskas. Turek was promptly restored to the team, and West Germany incredibly beat Hungary and a half-injured Puskas in the World Cup final.
1. Simone Barone - Italy
Simone Barone of Cagliari and Valiani Francesco of Parma during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and Parma FC at Stadio Sant'Elia on February 21, 2010 in Cagliari, Italy.
The worst World Cup winner of all time is quite possibly Simone Barone. The Italian was essentially a utility player, whose greatest attribute was probably his versatility. Barone spent more than a decade playing in Serie A with the likes of Chievo, Parma and Palermo. Despite a fairly big money move to Palermo, Barone was never a star of the division, but rather a distinctly average player who was relegated with Torino in 2009. His inclusion in the national team baffled most, but Marcello Lippi obviously saw something in him.
He was included in the Azzurri's squad for the 2006 World Cup, where he came off the bench twice as Italy won their fourth World Cup. In total, Barone won 16 caps for Italy, and is regarded by many Italians as one of the country's worst ever internationals. His place at Palermo was taken by Australian Mark Bresciano and he never played for Italy after 2006.