World Cup One-Hit Wonders
One of the best things about any World Cup is when a player is plucked from obscurity to become the talk of armchair pundits across the world. Sadly, only the very best go on to recreate that form when the fuss dies down – and some disappear completely.
Here, we profile five players who shined in the biggest competition in world football but never quite lived up to that billing at club level…
The world was at James’ feet after his sensational turn with Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, and he became that summer’s biggest transfer target, eventually signing for Real Madrid for £63 million. As with so many players thrown into the pressure-cooker environment of the Bernabéu, James struggled to justify the hype, and has looked far more comfortable during his two-year loan spell with Bayern.
The sensation behind Senegal’s remarkable run at the 2002 World Cup never quite lived up to expectations when Liverpool acted swiftly to snap up the striker following his success in Japan / South Korea.
He would score only three goals in 55 games before indifferent spells with Bolton, Sunderland, Blackburn Rovers and Leeds Utd.
Hands up who remembers this World Cup winner, who lifted the trophy with Brazil back in 2002? Leeds fans will certainly remember the temperamental centre back, who generated plenty of excitement when he arrived on loan in 2003 but endured a horrendous spell in Yorkshire, which included a sending off on his home debut.
Kleberson came to England with plenty of promise following a commanding 2002 World Cup with Brazil, but injuries meant he never managed to establish himself with Man Utd. He would go on to enjoy a more successful spell back in his homeland with Flamengo.
Footballer’s ultimate wheeler-dealer, Harry Redknapp, is famed for his anecdotes around his eclectic list of signings down the years, but defender Margas ranks amongst the best. The Chilean performed solidly enough at the 1998 World Cup for Redknapp to take a chance on him at West Ham. Margas struggled to acclimatise in England, and even ended up driving to Stansted Airport rather than the training ground on his first day at his new club.