Ademir to Zoff
CNNSI.com World Cup Hall of Fame shows Brazilian flair
The only nation to win four World Cups also tops all others in the CNNSI.com World Cup Hall of Fame unveiled on Tuesday.
From Ademir to Zico, Brazil leads all nations with 17 players in the Hall of Fame, which celebrates and remembers 100 players who have made their mark on the world’s greatest tournament since its inauguration in Uruguay in 1930.
Three-time winners Italy and German are next with 14 and 13 players, respectively, followed by Argentina (7), England (6) and the Netherlands (5). France, Uruguay and Hungary each earned four spots.
There are detailed biographies of the first 50 players on the alphabetical list, from Brazilian striker Ademir to Czech midfielder Jozef Masopust. Look out for the rest when Part II is published next week.
The Hall of Fame represents a shamelessly subjective selection that will inevitably provoke disagreement. Few would question the places of great players such as Pele, Diego Maradona, Franz Beckenbauer or Johan Cruyff, but beyond the top handful of legendary names the criteria for inclusion becomes fuzzier.
The great goalscorers are all there -- from Guillermo Stabile, the top scorer in 1930, to Davor Suker, Croatia’s golden boot winner in France four years ago -- but there are plenty of goalkeepers as well, including Italy’s two World Cup-winning captains Gianpiero Combi and Dino Zoff.
There are players who made a name for themselves with the winning goals in World Cup finals, such as England’s 1966 hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst or Andres Brehme, a man who might have made the list on his merits as a defender but who confirmed his place by scoring West Germany’s winning penalty against Argentina in 1990.
The great captains -- such as Argentina’s Daniel Passarella or Jose Nasazzi, the first caudillo of Uruguayan soccer and the first man to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy -- make the selection, along with midfield generals such as Didi and Dunga, radically different as players but both Brazilian World Cup winners.
Then are the players who have enjoyed their moments in the limelight, like Cameroon’s Roger Milla who wiggled his way into World Cup history in 1990. Others owe their places to single moments of unexpected brilliance. Saudi Arabia’s Saeed Owairan wouldn’t register on a list of great players but his solo effort against Belgium in 1994 remains one of the tournament’s greatest goals.
Some teams are heavily represented even though they never won the World Cup -- the Hungarian side of 1954 or the Dutch “total football” side of the 1970s for instance, because they challenged the way soccer was played.
Elsewhere there are tragic figures, such as Andres Escobar. The Colombian was murdered on his return home after scoring the own goal that sealed his country’s elimination from the 1994 finals. Joe Gaetjens stunned the soccer world with a goal that earned victory for the U.S. over England in 1950, but he is believed to have died at the hands of “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s ruthless Tontons Macoutes when he returned to his native Haiti.
Then there are the omissions.
There’s no place for the great Brazilian rightback Djalma Santos, a veteran of four World Cups and a winner in 1958 and 1962, even though his left-sided equivalent Nilton Santos gets in. But with 17 Brazilians on the list, the line had to be drawn somewhere. So no places for Mario Zagallo or Tostao either.
Similarly Jozef Bozsik misses out because the Hungarian side of 1954 is so well represented. Bozsik may have been captain but perhaps the fact he was sent off in the notorious “Battle of Berne” quarterfinal against Brazil can be used as an excuse to ignore his case.
There are plenty of one-off heroes, and every soccer fan will have their personal favorites.
Rabah Madjer deserves a mention for scoring Algeria’s winning goal against West Germany at the 1982 finals, but not quite a place. The same perhaps goes for Pak Do Ik, North Korea's hero against Italy in 1966.
Among current players, Lilian Thuram almost crept on to the list on the basis of his match-winning performance in France’s semifinal against Croatia four years ago.
Oleg Salenko won a share of the golden boot at the 1994 finals, but since five of his goals came against a demoralized Cameroon it was hard to make a case for the Russian.
Perhaps Ernest Wilimowski was more deserving of a place for his four goals for Poland against Brazil at the 1938 finals, but Leonidas scored four as well and Brazil won 6-5.