Despite the rise of the Champions League in recent years and the probably accurate view that it is in fact a more difficult competition to win, the World Cup is still the most watched and most illustrious competition in the world of football. Some players do not even get the chance to play in a World Cup, never mind win the competition.
Given that the 2014 World Cup was the 20th edition of the tournament, and the squad size has always been 23 players, there should have been 460 World Cup winners ever since the inaugural tournament back in 1930. If you take a look at the players most consider to be some of the greatest of all time; Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Zidane, etc, who've all won the World Cup, it is clear to see that the competition has been won by some true greats of the game.
Given that a minnow has never won the World Cup, with Uruguay in 1950 and West Germany in 1954 the closest we have come to genuine underdogs winning the competition, there haven't been many, if any, truly poor World Cup winners. There have been some though, whose names among the aforementioned list of greats seem a little out of place. Here are the top 15 worst players to win the World Cup:
15 Mario Genta
Mario Genta's World Cup success came in just the third addition of the tournament. Having won the tournament in controversial circumstances on home soil in 1934, Italy were looking to defend their title four years later in 1938, when Genta was called up to the squad. Featuring Italian legends such as Giuseppe Meazza and Luis Monti, Italy became the first team to win consecutive World Cups, an achievement Brazil (1958 & 1962) have matched. Genta though was just a back-up player. An unspectacular reserve defender who played his club football for Genoa. He didn't play at the tournament and won only two caps for Italy, both coming in 1939.
Jose Guilherme Baldocchi, or just 'Baldocchi' as he was better known, was a central defender who played for a number of Brazilian clubs. Baldocchi was named in Brazil's 1970 World Cup squad, who many believe to be the greatest of all time, alongside names such as Pele, Jairzinho, Gerson, Rivellino and more. With the greatest of respect, Baldocchi was nowhere near the class of those players, or anyone else in the Brazil squad for that matter. Although he spent 13 years in Brazil's top flight, he only ever won one domestic title. He didn't feature at the World Cup and was only ever capped once.
13 Stephane Guivarc'h
A more recent World Cup winner, Stephane Guivarc'h won the competition in 1998. The French striker had two very good seasons in Ligue 1 with Rennes and Auxerre which saw him named in the squad, but he was not of the class of his peers. Guivarc'h's strike partners included David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry. While he featured at the tournament, playing five times, including in the semi-final and final, he was not a world class player. He only scored once in 14 caps for France and was later voted the worst striker in Premier League history after a torrid spell with Newcastle.
Kleberson is a little different to most in this list in that he played a starring role and looked very good when his country won the World Cup. Aged 23, Kleberson had only made his international debut in 2002, but played in all of Brazil's knockout games as they won the 2002 World Cup. Brazil manager Luis Felipe Scolari hailed Kleberson's contribution and he joined Manchester United soon afterwards. Kleberson had a tough time at Old Trafford and never appeared to be the world class talent he seemed in 2002. He currently plays for the Indy Eleven of the NASL.
11 Franco Selvaggi
Pacy striker Franco Selvaggi was only 19 when he was named in Italy's 1982 World Cup squad, having made his debut as an 18-year-old. Selvaggi never took to the field as Italy won the tournament, and only ever won three caps for his country, ending his career in Serie D, Italy's fourth tier. Selvaggi did get his chance with big clubs, such as Torino, Udinese and Inter Milan, but struggled to score goals. He scored five in 20 with Udinese and none in seven for Inter, and must go down as the weakest member of Italy's 1982 World Cup winning squad.
10 Aldo Donati
Another Italian, but on this occasion a member of the Azzurri's 1938 World Cup winning squad. Donati is one of very few uncapped World Cup winners. That's right, Donati won the World Cup but never played for Italy once. Solid enough at club level, Donati played for Bologna and Roma, as well as making two appearances for Inter Milan. Although he did win the scudetto with Bologna in 1936 and 1937, he was still something of surprise inclusion in Italy's squad, even just as back-up, and was never called up again.
9 Miguel Oviedo
Argentina's success at the 1978 World Cup is one which is tainted for many by the way in which they played the game at the tournament. No blame could be attached to Miguel Oviedo, who was only ever on the fringes for the world champions. He was playing for Talleres at the time, where he spent most of his career. Oviedo was capped for Argentina, but the records do not state how many times. A steady midfielder at best, Oviedo played in the second and third tiers of Argentine football later in his career.
8 Roque Junior
Similar to Kleberson in many respects, Roque Junior followed in his compatriots' career path but to an even greater extent. It is difficult to see how a World Cup and Champions League winning player with 48 caps could make this list, but he does. Like Kleberson, Junior starred for Brazil in 2002 and moved to the Premier League shortly after, where he flopped and never recovered. Having looked a rock at the back for Brazil as they beat Germany in the World Cup final in 2002, to being in a leaky Leeds United defense in 2003, relegated in 2004. Junior tried to revive his career in Germany but failed, before moving to Qatar and returning to Brazil.
7 Jenilson Angelo de Souza
The third and still not last man to make this list from Brazil's 2002 World Cup winning squad, it is worth remembering that Brazil did have the likes of Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Rivaldo in their squad, and not just these four. Jenilson Angelo de Souza, or 'Junior', as he was better known, was playing for Parma in Serie A when he was named in Brazil's squad. He did feature at the tournament, scoring Brazil's fifth and final goal in their 5-2 win over Costa Rica. It was his only goal in 22 caps for Brazil, and he returned to the country from Serie A in 2004.
6 Claudio Borghi
Claudio Borghi, better known in Argentina simply as 'Bichi', was touted as a potential star of similar stature to Diego Maradona as youngster. At the age of 22 he was named in the 1986 World Cup squad, but as an attacking midfielder, opportunities were hard to come by as Maradona shook the world. Sadly, Borghi never reached the levels many expected of him and made the last of his 9 caps for Argentina whilst still only 22. Borghi later became something of a journeyman, playing in Mexico and Chile, and never played more 22 games for a club other than his boyhood team Argentinos Juniors.
The fourth and final member of Brazil's 2002 World Cup winning squad, Luizao is the worst of the bunch. Given Brazil had three of the most talented and feared forwards in the game at the time, Luizao was always likely to suffer by comparison, and he did. He made the squad after a run of goal scoring form with Corinthians, but he would never score prolifically again. He moved to Europe after the World Cup, joining Hertha Berlin, where he scored four goals in 26 games over a two year period. He moved to Japan in 2005 and his career was essentially over by 30. He scored four goals in 12 caps for Brazil.
4 Bernard Diomede
Bernard Diomede made his name in France with Auxerre, under the watchful eye of the club's legendary coach Guy Roux, where he won a league and cup double in 1996. Although the winger impressed for Auxerre, he didn't play well for any other club over the rest of his career. He won his first cap for France in 1998, and started three games in the 1998 World Cup which France won, although none in the quarters, semis or final of the competition. He later joined Liverpool, where he played only five games, before dropping to the French second and third tier in a rapid fall from grace, and he soon retired aged 31.
3 Jair Marinho
There are six Brazilian players on this list in total, which may seem a little harsh, but given that the country has won the World Cup five times, more than any other nation, it is perhaps to be expected. Likewise, in a list of the greatest World Cup winners of all time, Brazilians would be equally prevalent. Jair Marinho was part of Brazil's 1962 World Cup winning squad, where he was Brazil's back-up right-back to Djalma Santos.
With the greatest deal of respect, Marinho wasn't fit to lace Santos' boots. He was solid enough in his time with Fluminese and Corinthians, but distinctly average, and never featured at the 1962 World Cup, but did later win four caps for his country.
2 Heinz Kwiatowski
Heinz Kwiatowski may be a Borussia Dortmund legend, but he must still go down as one of the worst players to have won a World Cup in history. West Germany had a goalkeeping crisis in 1954. First choice Toni Turek played poorly against Turkey, and Heinz Kubsch picked up an injury, meaning Heinz Kwiatowski started in Germany's group game against Hungary. The Dortmund man conceded eight goals in an 8-3 defeat to the Magical Magyars, and didn't feature again, winning only four caps for West Germany, who somehow went on to beat Hungary in the final in what became known as the 'Miracle of Bern'.
1 Simone Barone
The worst World Cup winner of all time is quite possibly Simone Barone. The Italian was essentially a utility player, whose greatest attribute was probably his versatility. Barone spent more than a decade playing in the Serie A with the likes of Chievo, Parma and Palermo. Despite a fairly big money move to Palermo, Barone was never a star of the division, a distinctly average player who was relegated with Torino in 2009. His inclusion in the national team baffled most, but Marcello Lippi obviously saw something in him.
He was included in the Azzurri's squad for the 2006 World Cup, where he came off the bench twice as Italy won their fourth World Cup. In total, Barone won 16 caps for Italy, and is regarded by many Italians as one of the country's worst ever internationals. His place at Palermo was taken by Australian Mark Bresciano and he never played for Italy after 2006.