Gheorghe Hagi - Romania

Gheorghe Hagi kick started his footballing career with Romanian first division outfit Farul Constanta, he only stayed there for one year and then moved onto Sportul Studentesc, playing for this club for three seasons. He moved to Steuna Bucherast at the beginning of the 1986-87.

At Steuna Bucherast, he won the league and cup double in three successive seasons at the club. Hagi made his world cup debut in 1990, showing his brilliance especially in the matches against Soviet Union and Argentina. His world cup brilliance earned him a move to top European club, Real Madrid, and he then moved on to Italian outfit Brescia two years later. Hagi had certainly reached his peak during the 1994 world cup in America. He was considered the best player of this tournament and showed the world what a truly magnificent player he actually is. He also scored one of the best goals of the tournament against Colombia in the group phase, with a 40 yard chip that beat the Colombia goalkeeper. He scored three goals in this tournament and helped Romania reach the quarter finals, which is the furthest they have ever been in a major tournament. However unfortunately for Romania and Hagi, they lost against Sweden in penalties.

Four years on, Hagi played for Romania in the World cup in France, however they went out in the second round, and Hagi was arguably not in his best form. He spent his final playing years at top Turkish club Galatasaray, where he helped them win the UEFA cup. Gheorghe Hagi is truly one of the greatest ever players to appear in the world cup.

Hristo Stoitchkov - Bulgaria

Hristo Stoitchkov started his career at Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia. Hristo is best known for his thundering pace and quick movements, however his temperament has let him down over the years. During the 1989-90 season, he won the Golden boot award in Europe, scoring 38 goals in that season for CSKA Sofia, so he was given recognition for being the top goalscorer in Europe. Stoitchkov moved to Barcelona at the start of the 1990-1992 season. At Barcelona his goals helped them win the Spanish league four years running.

He was certainly recognised as a world class footballer at the world cup finals in USA in 1994. He didn’t just help Bulgaria reach the semi-finals of the tournament. He won the Golden boot award for being top scorer, he found the back of the net on 6 occasions. He scored one of the best goals of the World cup against Mexico in the second round. He scored a tremendous free kick against Germany in the quarter finals, in a match Bulgaria came from behind to beat the holders.

However despite Stoitchkov’s brilliant display they were knocked out of the competition in the semi finals, however the 1994 was certainly Bulgaria’s most successful period in International football. Stoitchokov heroics in the world cup earned him the title of European footballer of the year. He then moved on to Parma for a short while and then moved back to Barcelona for a couple more seasons. He was a fixture in the Bulgarian squad for the 1998 world cup in France; however he couldn’t produce the brilliance in this world cup like he did 4 years previously. Stitchkov hanged up his boots one year after the world cup in France, at the age of 33. Many regard Stoitchkov as being the best Bulgarian footballer of all time.

Roberto Baggio - Italy

He started his football career at the age of 15 for Vicenza during the 1982-1983 football season, three years later Fiorentina picked him up, where he was very impressive. He made his international debut for Italy during the 1988/89 season, he also scored 24 goals that season in Italy, which made him one of the top scorers in the Italian league. His brilliant play in the following season earned him a deal with Juventus for a world record fee of £7.7 million, just before the 1990 world cup. Baggio helped Italy reach the Semi Final in the world cup, scoring two goals, one of them considered the best goal of the tournament with a 40 yard run beating all Czechoslovakian defenders and then stabbing the ball precisely past the Czechoslovakian keeper.

He then went on to spend 5 tremendous years playing for Juventus, winning the UEFA cup, Italian league and the Italian cup with them. His outstanding play during the 1992-1993 season earned him the honour of being crowned ‘World and European footballer of the year,’ in 1993.

Roberto Baggio’s best world cup was certainly the one in USA in 1994. he wasn’t at his best form in the opening few games, however during Italy’s second round match against Nigeria, Baggio was excellent, scoring two goals and causing the Nigerian defence problems throughout the match. He was even better in their quarter final match against Spain, scoring another goal against them. He added another 2 goals helping Italy beat Bulgaria in the semi finals, however despite a good performance against Brazil in the Final, he missed the crucial penalty that lost Italy the world cup, however he was arguably the best footballer of the 1994 World cup, scoring five goals in that world cup.

Four years later he played in few matches for Italy in the world cup at France, however he wasn’t the same player he was in the 1994 world cup. He then went on to play for Italian side AC Milan, where he helped them win the league, and had short spells at Bologna, Inter Milan and Brescia.

Romario - Brazil

Romario started his career at Vasco de Gama, where he helped them win two state championships. He then moved on to top Dutch club, PSV Eindhoven, where he also helped them win the Dutch league in 1989, 1991 and 1992. He was impressive also at the Olympics in 1988, helping Brazil win silver medal. In 1993 he moved to Barcelona, where he helped them win the league in his first season. He was outstanding for Brazil at the world cup in USA in 1994, he came second top scorer of the tournament with five goals, and formed a great partnership upfront with fellow striker Bebeto. His brilliance helped Brazil win the world cup that year; they beat Italy in the final in the Penalty shoot out. His brilliance during the 1994 world cup earned him the title of ‘FIFA world player of the year,’ in 1994. After the world cup he returned to Brazil, starring for Flamengo and then moved back to Spain to play for Valencia in 1997. Injury prevented him from taking part in the 1998 world cup.
He moved to Fluminense in 2002, before moving back to his original club Vasco de Gama, and he has been playing for them since. He is certainly one of the worlds greatest strikers of all time. Romario is also one of the greatest ever player to play in the world cup.

Cobi Jones - USA

Jones started off his professional football career at FC Cologne of Germany in 1992, in the same year he also made his international debut for USA. He played a staggering 30 international matches for USA in 1993, helping them prepare for the world cup finals the following year. Jones played very well in the opening group matches of the world cup in America. In the world cup in 1994 he attracted the attention of the footballing world with his dreadlocked hairstyle and flamboyant skill. He was outstanding in the matches against Brazil and Colombia; however USA didn’t go any further than the second round of that world cup. Many people regarded Jones as being America’s best player of the tournament and because of his excellent display in the tournament; premiership club Coventry signed him from across the Atlantic. At Coventry City he became a permanent fixture in the side. However his stay at Coventry only lasted a year and he moved back to America playing for Los Angeles Galaxy. Jones also starred in the world cups in 1998 and 2002, and has now won over 160 caps for his country.

Dunga - Brazil

Dunga earned recognition whilst playing for Brazil in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

In 1984, the midfielder played outstandingly well, helping Brazil win the silver medal of that competition. In 1988 Dunga moved to Italian club Fiorentina, he stayed there for around four years before moving to German club Stuggart and after a spell out of the International scene the current Brazilian manager decided to recall the player. Dunga was Brazil’s captain during the world cup in America, in this tournament he was the inspiration behind Brazil’s success, he helped and motivated the Brazilians to winning their matches and he gave one hundred percent in every match. Dunga captained Brazil to victory in the final of that world cup against Italy; he also held his nerve at the penalty spot by converting his penalty into the back of the net.

Four years later, Dunga once again starred in the Brazilian side of the 1998 world cup, however the lost in the final 3-0 against France.

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