FIFA World Cup

2018 FIFA WC: The legends and their memories ahead of their last World Cup



XtraTime Web Desk: The FIFA World Cup 2018 will certainly produce some 'magic moments', but at the same time it is also gearing up to bid good bye to some phenomenal legends of the beautiful game. This story of www.xtratime.in will take a tour of those legends and their ineffable journey in this outstanding stage 0f world football.

Andres Iniesta, 34

Spain

10:37pm local time, Soccer City, Johannesburg. This was when Iniesta’s prominent place in World Cup history was secured forever. While future generations may well remember him most for his extra-time volley against the Netherlands, he is rightly regarded as a player who could turn the game into an interpretive art performance.

Having earned his Spain debut just a fortnight before Germany 2006 kicked off, he has been a central figure ever since. Now, after playing his final game for Barcelona to end a two-decade long association, he is set to pull on the national team shirt for the last time, It will cap an emotional couple of months for The Illusionist.

World Cup debut: Saudi Arabia 0-1 Spain, 23 June 2006

Tournaments: 2006, 2010, 2014

Appearances so far: 10

Memorable World Cup moment: Scoring the goal that won the Final at South Africa 2010.

Rafael Marquez, 39

Mexico

Having retired from club football in April, bowing out at Atlas where he begun his professional career 22 years ago, Russia 2018 will truly be the final chance to enjoy the man known as El Kaiser. Marquez will equal the all-time record of appearing at five World Cups should he play, matching compatriot Antonio Carbajal and Germany’s Lothar Matthaus.

In truth, he could have been setting a new record, having already made his debut in 1997, only to miss out on France 1998 as a 19-year-old. However, when he did belatedly make his arrival he was sporting the captain’s armband at Korea/Japan 2002, leading him to become the first player to skipper his team at four consecutive World Cups.

World Cup debut: Mexico 1-0 Croatia, 3 June 2002

Tournaments: 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014

Appearances so far: 16

Memorable World Cup moment: Scoring the equaliser in the opening game of South Africa 2010.

Tim Cahill, 38

Australia

The only consistent figure across Australia’s modern World Cup era, Cahill wasted little time in making himself a hero, earning them their first ever win at the global finals with a late brace against Japan in their first game of Germany 2006. The Socceroos have never won without him on the scoresheet.

He has five goals to his name so far, with his strike against Chile in Brazil 2014 making him the first Australian to score in three World Cups. He could also add to his accolade as the nation’s top scorer by becoming their record caps-holder in Russia.

World Cup debut: Australia 3-1 Japan, 12 June 2006

Tournaments: 2006, 2010, 2014

Appearances so far: 8

Memorable World Cup moment: His thunderous volley against the Netherlands at Brazil 2014.

Javier Mascherano, 33

Argentina

While some people may overlook the value of Mascherano, the fact that he has played every minute of Argentina’s last three World Cups proves that, inside La Albiceleste’s camp, he has never been taken for granted. Prior to coaching them in South Africa, Diego Maradona described Argentina as “Mascherano and ten more”, later making the defensive midfielder his captain.

Coming so close to taking the title four years ago, before being beaten in extra-time by Mario Gotze’s winner for Germany, will no doubt always feel like a missed opportunity. However, he has one last chance to live out his dream with Argentina in Russia.

World Cup debut: Argentina 2-1 Cote d’Ivoire, 10 June 2006

Tournaments: 2006, 2010, 2014

Appearances so far: 16

Memorable World Cup moment: His 90th-minute tackle to deny Arjen Robben a winning goal in the Brazil 2014 semi-final.

 

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