The dream of every footballer is representing his club or country in a major final whether it’s at the World Cup, Champions League, Euro, Copa America, AFCON or even the FA Cup as long as the reward for triumph is silverware.
However, the plight for any footballer is missing a final and not being able to impact the game due to injury or suspension and all they can do is watch on like a spectator.
This is the fate that has recently befallen Kalidou Koulibaly, one of the best defenders in world football.
The Senegalese defender played a monumental part in getting his country in the Africa Cup of Nations Finals for the 1st time in 17 years. As Senegal takes on Algeria, this will be the chance for the Lions of Tehranga to break their jinx of having never won the AFCON.
The highly-rated Napoli centre back will take no part in the AFCON final on Friday night for a 2nd yellow card in the tournament as he was booked in the semifinals against Tunisia.
He will not be the first vital footballer to miss a final for club or country and below, we put a microscope on some players that almost or suffered similar fate.
Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne
Besides Roger Milla’s fascinating dance celebration, one of the most iconic scenes at the Italia 90 World Cup was Paul Gascoigne breaking into a flood of tears after picking up a yellow card in the world cup semifinals as his country, England faced West Germany which meant that he would miss the final due to suspension if his team progressed .
However, England lost to Germany on penalties in the semifinals but Gazza still missed the 3rd place playoff due to suspension.
2002 was a dark year for Michael Ballack. The German skipper lost technically 3 finals for his club Bayer Leverkusen and lost one for his country.
The DFB Pokal was won by Schalke 04 who beat Leverkusen. They also finished 1st runners up in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich and lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid. Who could forget that Zinedine Zidane sublime volley at Hampden Park???
The same year, Germany had a chance at World Cup glory however, their star that shone brightest, Michael Ballack missed the finals against Brazil due to the yellow card he picked up 4 minutes after scoring the winner against South Korea in the semis.
Paul Scholes And Roy Keane
1999 is the most successful year in Manchester United history having won the treble of the Premier League, Champions league and FA Cup in that year.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the current Man Utd manager edged his name in the Manchester United history books by scoring the winner in the Champions league final against Bayern Munich at Camp Nou.
However, Utd did it without two key players. Paul Scholes and the talismanic captain, Roy Keane had both picked up yellow cards in the semifinals against Juventus in Turin and thus missed the finals.
John Terry, Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic And Raul Meireless
This quadruple had a hand in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph in 2012. From Ramires’ exquisite chip over Victor Valdes against Barcelona to Raul Meireless’ screamer against Benefica then Branislav Ivanovic’s brace IN THE COMEBACK AGAINST Napoli and of course John Terry being John Terry.
All of the 4 missed the Champions League final due to suspension. Never the less, against all odds, Chelsea beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena to win their maiden Champions league title.
The 2003 Champions League final between Juventus and AC Milan could have been the most boring game of all time if it wasn’t for this year’s final between Liverpool and Tottenham.
The 2003 Czech Balon D’or winner, Pavel Nedved could not do anything to help his team, Juventus win the title. All he could do was sit at Old Trafford and watch like a spectator because of his suspension for having picked up a yellow for a foul on Real Madrid’s Steve McManaman in the semifinals.
Juventus had David Trezeguet as one of their penalty takers in the shoot out against Milan in the finals and it’s a public secret what it means to have Trezeguet as one of your penalty takers.
The France Fans can bear witness having watched the 2006 World Cup Final. Well, Juventus lost on penalties 4-3 against Milan and Nedved couldn’t do a thing.
In the quest for Real Madrid’s “La Decima”, Xabi Alonso was a key piece, especially in the midfield. However, he sat out the final as The Real Madrid played against arch-rivals, Atletico Madrid in 2014.
Alonso was booked in the semifinals for a clumsy challenge on Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger. Real Madrid went ahead to win the final without Xabi who had at least enjoyed the pleasure of playing in a Champions League final in 2005 where he scored and his team won against AC Milan on that magical night in Istanbul.
Our list may not be comprehensive, but if you have some interesting stories to share about football stars that missed out on crucial finals, feel free to hit that comment section.
Author: Derrick Ashimwe
Derrick is a sports pundit, a devoted Chelsea fan and writes for Newslibre. He is also a presenter at 91.2 Crooze FM covering various sports segments.