Roberto Baggio- 1994
When we speak of injustice in football; Iniesta and Xavi’s lack of Ballon D’or, Ronaldo and Messi’s lack of World Cup, 1982 Brazil and 1974 Netherlands’ iconic teams without any success. However, there was another injustice in football that happened to Roberto Baggio, an Italian enigma whose flair and technique was considered as an impeccable sight. Baggio’s famous long hair and the Italian masculinity went hand in hand with his on field achievements.
When Italy went into the 1994 World Cup, they pinned their hopes on Baggio to be their next Rossi. The Italian started the tournament in a great fashion and his overall game balanced Italy’s ultra-defensive strategy. The final was a drab affair and when it went into extra time, Baggio’s body had fully given up. He had suffered a hamstring issue, but played the 120 minutes, before stepping up to take the last penalty, which could have shifted the shootout into sudden death, but somehow, he managed to sky his effort, and the subsequent image was then penned down to history.
Asamoah Gyan- 2010
When Suarez palmed the ongoing effort in a tensed quarter final draw, the World was instantly divided as many saw this as violation of fairplay and many termed it as the desperate measure taken to win a game for the country. However, Suarez was given a straight red, and left Ghana with a penalty to take that could have taken them to the semi final for the first time. However, Asamoah Gyan’s effort was dismal and he let the shootouts decide the game, where Uruguay won it convincingly.
Uruguay did lose the semi-final, but Gyan could have sealed his county and an entire Africa’s fate as potential winners. Ironically, Gyan was one of Ghana’s brightest performers in the tournament.
England’s ability in penalty shootouts have been dissected more than anyone can remember, and no one leaves a chance of mocking them. When the 1990 tournament arrived, many expected England to perform well under the tutelage of Bobby Robson and players like Lineker and Gascoigne. England put up a string of impressive performance, before sealing their birth in the semi final clash with Germany. Gascoigne picked up a silly yellow which ruled him out of the final and he was in tears, before the match ended.
The game was then taken to the shootouts where Stuart Pearce missed his chance. Waddle was up to keep England’s hopes alive, but it was one of the worst penalties ever taken as it went straight into the sky that left Lineker and others in heaps of tears.
Brazilian forwards were never about scoring goals, but always a step above. Even Gabriel Jesus proves that theory. 4 decades back, Brazil had formed their strongest squad ever and it is considered the best ever to not win a World Cup. That team consisted of Zico, Socrates, Cerezo, Falcao, and Eder, but they lost to Italy. 4 years later, Zico, Cerezo, and Socrates were still at the helm of things and upon reaching the quarter finals, the tie against France was a battle between Brazil and Platini. Zico who suffered from injury throughout the tournament came in as a sub after the game was tied at 1-1 and upon his arrival Brazil was awarded a penalty.
Zico’s tame effort was saved easily, although Socrates and Cerezo; proven penalty specialists were still on the field. Subsequently, penalty shootout came in the fore and ironically Cesar and Socrates missed their efforts and Zico scored. However, many believe it was Zico’s effort that cost Brazil’s dream team another World Cup.
David Trezeguet- 2006
The skinny French forward was lightning quick and played perfect fold to Thierry Henry. Trezeguet is a Juventus legend, and prior to the 2006 World Cup, he was in red hot form. However, it was Zidane’s World Cup yet again as he flourished throughout the tournament. The 2006 final is remembered as the famous Zidane-Materrazi headbutt clash. Zidane’s straight red meant Italy advanced into the penalties with an advantage.
All Italian players scored from the spot, and 4 of France’ players as well except David. His effort clattered into the bar and as soon as Grosso struck the deciding penalty, the French team broke down in tears.