Lifting the World Cup is undoubtedly the pinnacle of any football career, with the famous trophy being the most prestigious award in the game.
Throughout history the greatest players ever to grace the pitch have gone on to clinch a World Cup winners medal, securing the most illustrious moment of their respective careers.
Although, as is the nature of the sport at international level, being a great player doesn’t guarantee such a feat will come to fruition. This is prominent in the modern game with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in history, having so far failed to lift a major honour with Argentina.
So, here are five of the best ever footballers never to have won the World Cup in their career, including the one and only Messi.
It looked as if Messi was finally heading towards his most desired achievement back in 2014 as he helped Argentina reach the World Cup final in Brazil.
But it turned out to be further heartbreak for the Argentina skipper, as they tasted a sickening extra-time defeat to Germany, with Mario Gotze netting a famous winner after coming on as a late substitute.
After returning from a previous international retirement, the Barcelona icon will have one final shot at finally claiming the one trophy that continues to desert him in his already incredible career to date.
If Messi is included, then long-standing rival Cristiano Ronaldo has to be too. The difference here is that the Real Madrid star has actually lifted a major tournament with Portugal, after winning Euro 2016.
The La Liga sharpshooter is Messi’s rival to the title of ‘greatest of all time’ and winning the World Cup in Russia with his nation would certainly bolster his credentials for that crown.
Ronaldo has been typically prolific throughout the season for Real Madrid, especially in the Champions League, and he has won everything there is to win in his career. But clinching victory this summer would undoubtedly be his greatest achievement.
Netherlands legend Johan Cruyff is another football icon who sadly never managed to get his hands on the World Cup trophy, in fact he never won a major tournament with his nation.
Widely considered one of the best forwards in history, the deadly Dutchman sickeningly lost back-to-back World Cup finals, having sadly lost in both the 1974 and 1978 events.
Cruyff was rallied to astonishing success during his club career with both Dutch giants Ajax and Barcelona, where he became a revolutionary figure, but the World Cup sadly always eluded him.
Portugal fans widely hailed iconic goalscorer Eusebio to be their greatest ever player, that was until a certain Cristiano Ronaldo arrived on the international scene.
But the former Benfica frontman is a legend nevertheless and one who came close to winning the World Cup for his nation, but agonisingly fell short.
In the 1966 tournament it looked like he would lead Portugal to victory, but ultimately they had to settle for third place, and we all know who went all the way that year.
From a host of exceptional attackers to one of the greatest ever defenders to cap off our list of those who failed to win the World Cup in their careers.
Widely regarded by many to be best defender in the history of the sport, Paolo Maldini claimed ever honour possible in his club career with Italian giants AC Milan, where he made his debut with at 16 years old and remained at the San Siro for 24 seasons.
Maldini came up short in the 1994 World Cup final, as Italy were beaten by a star-studded Brazil side in a penalty shoot out. He also lost the Euro 2000 final to France, but lifted seven Serie A titles and five Champions League crowns with the Rossoneri.