Rivaldo - Brazil

Brazilian footballer Rivaldo is originally from Recife in Brazil. He started his professional football career playing in Brazil. During his years playing in Brazil he played for Paulista, Santa Cruz, Mogo-mirin, Corinthians and Palerias.

He moved to Deportivo La Coruna in Spain after his time in Brazil and then later moved to top Spanish club Barcelona for a heavy fee of around £17 Million at the start of the 1996-97 season. In his first season at Barcelona he scored a staggering 19 goals and he led the club to a domestic double, winning both the league and Spanish cup with them in his debut season. He featured in Brazil’s world cup side of 1998, where he sparkled throughout the competition. He was outstanding during the 1998-1999 season which earned him the honour of ‘world footballer of the year,’ It was during the 2002 world cup where Rivaldo had probably reached his peak; he was outstanding for the eventual winners of the tournament. He scored five goals during the world cup in Korea; his exceptional goals came especially in the matches against Belgium and England. His skill and pace was too much for the opposition to handle, however his best asset is probably his intelligent football brain.

Michael Ballack - Germany

Michael Ballack is now regarded as one of Germany’s greatest ever midfielders. He made his international debut against Scotland in April 1999. He helped Bayern Leverkusan move higher up in the German league tables throughout his career at the club. He was exceptional during the 2001/2002 season, notching up 17 goals for Bayern Leverkusan and led the side to the Champions league final which they lost to at the hands of Spanish giants Real Madrid. Ballack ensured Germany reached the world cup in 2002, scoring three goals in a playoff match against the Ukraine. At the world cup in 2002, he was outstanding scoring three goals during the tournament and leading the Germans to the final of the world cup. However Ballack unfortunately missed the world cup final due to a booking against South Korea which led to his world cup final suspension. His brilliant performances for Germany during the world cup finals earned him a move to fellow top German side Bayern Munich, he was also voted German footballer of the year for 2002 due to his league and world cup heroics.

Miroslav Klose - Germany

Klose was an unlikely hero for Germany during the world cup finals in Korea, he was virtually unknown amongst football fans before the world cup 2002 tournament had commenced. Klose really made his mark during the world cup finals of 2002. he scored a hat-trick for Germany in there 8-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia. Klose also scored in Germanys match against the Republic of Ireland and against Cameroon. Most of Klose’s goals came from headers and his speed is tough for oppositions to control. He appeared in all of Germany’s matches in the 2002 world cup and won a runner-up medal as the Germans lost to Brazil in the final.

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David Beckham - England

One of the enduring images from world cup 1998 for English fans is David Beckham’s petulant kick on Diego Simone in the match against Argentina in the second round. Many people blame his sending off as the reason why England didn’t make it through to the quarter finals of that world cup. However the four years since that happened has seen a spectacular transformation in Beckham’s game. Beckham was appointed captain of England in 2001 and has been an example to the whole team. Beckham played his football at Manchester United, he made his debut for them in 1995 and he established himself in the starting eleven during the 95-96 season. He made his international debut against Moldova in September 1996 and has been a permanent fixture in the England side since. Despite being sent off in the 1998 world cup against Argentina he still played fantastically well in his opening three matches, scoring a free kick from 25 yards against Colombia. Beckham helped Manchester United win their unique treble in 1999 including the league, F.A Cup and Champions league. In 1999 Beckham came runner up to Rivaldo for the world footballer of the year award. He helped Manchester United win the premiership in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. Despite England’s awful performances in Euro 2000, he was the only player in the England team that played magnificently well.

Beckham’s performance during the qualifying matches for the 2002 world cup finals was second to none. He scored the free kick against Greece which sealed qualification for the world cup. Beckham played a vital role for England in the 2002 world cup; he scored the winning penalty against Argentina in the group phase and was excellent against Denmark. However unfortunately for England and their captain David Beckham they lost to Brazil 2-1 in the quarter finals. Beckham moved to Real Madrid at the start of the 2003/2004 season and is going to play a key role in England 2006 world cup campaign.

Roberto Carlos - Brazil

Carlos started his career playing in Brazil for Palmeiras, he later joined Inter Milan in 1995, however he only spent one season there and then moved onto Real Madrid in the summer of 1996. In 1997 Roberto Carlos came runner up to Ronaldo for the world footballer of the year award. Roberto Carlos is best known as being one of the best dead ball specialists in the game. Roberto Carlos was on top form during the 2002 world cup finals in Korea and Japan. He helped the Brazilains win the world cup in 2002; he scored a thunderous free kick against China and was a constant threat to defences throughout the world cup.

Alessandro Del Piero - Italy

Alessandro Del Piero first came to prominence after joining Italian outfit Juventus in 1993. In 1995 he inspired Juventus to a league and cup double. In 1997-98 Del Piero was in terrific form as he led Juventus to the Scudetto. He was out of action after suffering from a knee injury at the end of 1998 which kept him out of football for around one year. Del Piero’s stunning free kick against Hungry in their final world cup qualifying match clinched them a place in the 2002 world cup finals. After disappointing performances in the world cup finals at France in 1998 and a poor performance in Euro 2000, Del Piero was looking to prove to the whole world he can perform well on the international stage. He played spectacularly well in the 20002 world cup finals, he scored the equalizing goal for Italy in their match against Mexico which ensured the Italians reaching the second phase. He played well against South Korea however Italy lost 2-1 in a controversial second round match. Since the 2002 world cup finals Del Piero has been playing for Juventus, helping them win the Italian league in the 2004/05 season.

Rio Ferdinand - England

Ferdinand joined West ham as a junior and made his first appearance for them at the age of 17. Ferdinand made his international debut for England against Cameroon in November 1997, at the age of 19. Despite making Glenn Hoddles squad for the 1998 world cup he didn’t feature in any matches. Due to his spectacular defensive displays for West Ham, it earned him a move to Leeds United for £18 million in November 2000. Ferdinand was England’s first choice centre back in the 2002 world cup finals. He produced outstanding performances during the 2002 world cup finals, he was a rock at the heart of England’s defence in their spectacular 1-0 victory over Argentina, and he was outstanding against Sweden, Nigeria and Denmark. He scored England’s first goal in their second round match against Denmark which they went onto win 3-0. Ferdinand’s excellent performance in the 2002 world cup finals earned him a move to Manchester United for a staggering £30 million which remains the highest ever fee paid to a defender. He helped Manchester United win the premiership in the 2002/03 season and the F.A cup for the 2003/04 season.

Oliver Khan - Germany

Kahn started his career at German side Karlsruhe; his excellent goalkeeping at the club earned him a move to Germany’s biggest club Bayern Munich. He joined Munich for £2 Million and has been there ever since. Oliver khan’s trademarks include his powers of concentration, aggression and fierce will to win. Khan puts himself through gruelling training schedules and it pays off well. Khan helped Bayern Munich win the UEFA cup in 1996, conceding just one goal in the two-legged final against Bordeaux. He made his international debut for the Germans in 1995. He was Germans number one choice goalkeeper during Euro 2000. Khan was voted the best player of the 2002 world cup finals, he beat off competition from the competitions top scorer Ronaldo. He kept clean sheets in the matches against Saudi Arabia, Paraguay, Cameroon, South Korea and USA. He only conceded goals in the matches against Ireland and two goals against Brazil in the final. He made excellent world class point blank saves against USA and South Korea which kept the Germans in the world cup.

Robbie Keane - Republic of Ireland

Robbie Keane started his professional playing career playing in the English football league, playing for first division outfit Wolves. During the 1997-98 season he established his first team place in the Wolves side and made his international debut. By the start of the 98-99 season, premiership club Coventry City paid £6 Million for keane’s services. The Irishman was outstanding on his premiership debut scoring two goals and left the field to a standing ovation. After one season Inter Milan paid £12 Million for Keane and he moved to Italy. He became an instant hit in the Italian league and whilst playing there he was improving as a player. Out of the blue Milan loaned out Keane to Leeds united, where he partnered up front with Mark Viduka.

Keane was outstanding for Ireland in the 2002 world cup. He scored the equaliser for Ireland in their 1-1 draw against Germany. He notched up another goal against Saudi Arabia leading the Irish to a 3-0 victory. He was on top form in Irelands second round match against Spain, he scored a penalty in the final minute of match to bring the game into extra time, however unfortunately for Republic of Ireland they failed go through losing 3-2 in the penalty shoot out against Spain.

Robbie keane’s spectacular performances for Ireland in the 2002 world cup earned him a move to fellow premiership club Tottenham Hotspur, where he has been a permanent fixture at the club ever since.

Raul - Spain

Raul was born and brought up in Madrid, he started his football playing career starring in Athletic’s youth side and he then moved on to play for Real Madrid. He was Real Madrid’s top scorer during the 1995-96 season scoring 19 goals in forty matches. He narrowly missed out on Spain’s Euro96 squad. He made his international debut against Czech Republic October 1996. His first goal for Spain came in a match against Yugoslavia in December 1996. Raul has been highly successful for his club Real Madrid; he was one of the star players in the side that won the 1998 European cup.

He was a member of the Spanish squad that played in World cup 1998 and Euro 2000. Raul was Spain’s biggest threat in the 2002 world cup finals; he played in four of their matches scoring three goals for Spain. He opened his world cup scoring account during Spain’s 3-1 opening match victory against Slovenia. He added two more goals to his account in Spain’s final group match victory against South Africa. He helped Spain beat Ireland in the second round; however he didn’t feature for Spain in their match against South Korea which they later lost on penalties.

He has been a prolific scorer for Real Madrid since the 2002 world cup finals.

Hidetoshi Nakata - Japan

Japan’s Hidetoshi Nakata is one of the main stars of Asian football. Nakata is undoubtedly the region’s top footballing export. It was newly promoted Perugia who bought Nakata from Japan’s J-league to the rather more competitive Serie A in the summer of 1998. He proved to be a revelation at the Italian club which then earned him a move to Roma for a staggering £15 Million two years later. After Nakata’s debut season at Roma, the club lifted the Scudetto. Nakata’s strengths include his speed and his uncanny awareness of space. He has great ability to spot openings and find his team mates with precise passes.

Japan were hosts of the 2002 world cup finals and all eyes were on Nakata to help Japan progress past the group phase. He was outstanding for Japan in the world cup, scoring in their 2-0 victory over Tunisia. He also helped them to victory in their previous match against Russia. Japan eventually lost 1-0 in the second round against a tough Turkish side; however Nakata only improved his world class reputation during this tournament. After the world cup he was playing for Italian club Parma.

Hakan Sukur - Turkey

Hakan Sukur has undoubtedly been one of Turkeys best ever strikers. He joined Turkish outfit Galatasaray in 1992. The goals started to come immediately; he scored 19 goals in the 1992-93 season and added another 19 goals the following season. In the summer of 1995 Italian side Torino paid £3 Million for him. However his stay at the Italian side only lasted a couple of months before moving back to Turkey to play for Galatasaray. In 2000, Galatasaray beat English side Arsenal in the final of the UEFA cup. Sukur took part in the Turkish side that played in Euro 96 and Euro 2000. Sukur’s impressive play during the European Championships of 2000 earned him a move back to Italy, playing for Inter Milan. Sukur was one of Turkey’s heroes during the 2002 world cup finals; he played in all of Turkeys seven matches. He scored one of Turkey’s goals in the tournament and caused loads of problems for his opposition. He played well during the group phase matches. His excellent attacking ability helped Turkey overcome Senegal in the quarter finals. Hakan Sukur also made history during the tournament; he scored the fastest goal ever scored in world cup history during Turkeys third place play off match against South Korea. His goal came just eleven seconds after kick off which broke a 40 year record.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.