Playing in the World Cup is probably every footballer’s dream and the pinnacle of his career.
Some, like Pelé, not only participated in the tournament more than once, but also lifted the trophy multiple times.
But some of the best soccer players end their careers without making it to the tournament.
Some of them help their team qualify and are good enough to make the team, but then they miss the flight due to an unfortunate injury.
Here are 10 of the best footballers who will miss the 2022 World Cup due to injury, with a special mention going to Frenchman Karim Benzema, who was ruled out a day before the start of the World Cup.
Paul Pogba (France)
Perhaps the biggest name on the list, Paul Pogba, a World Cup and UEFA Euro winner with France, an international star and, more importantly, a vital member of the French national team, will not be available this time around as they seek defend their title in Qatar.
Pogba underwent surgery in September on a knee injury and will not recover in time when France open their title defense on November 22 against Australia.
Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Senegal’s star striker Sadio Mane was on the Qatari squad but had to be withdrawn two days before the tournament’s opening match on Sunday. Mane suffered a leg injury while playing for his club Bayern Munich earlier this month.
The news did not go down well with the Senegalese fans, as their hopes of success for the Teranga Tigers rested on Mane’s shoulders. Senegal plays its first game against the Netherlands on November 21.
Marco Reus (Germany)
Marcus Reus has had his share of bad luck when it comes to the World Cup.
The 33-year-old missed the 2014 edition through injury and his team won the trophy. Reus was set to return from injury and be part of Hansi Flick’s German squad for the 2022 World Cup, but he aggravated the ankle injury and was ruled out yet again.
Diogo Jota (Portugal)
One of Portugal’s leading attacking men, Diogo Jota would have been among the top names in his team’s starting eleven during their World Cup campaign. But Jota suffered a calf injury representing his club Liverpool during a league match in October.
While Jota did not require surgery, the rehabilitation period for his injury will be long enough to keep him out of the World Cup. Pundits have put Portugal among the favorites for the tournament and Jota’s absence may have a big effect on their chances.
Amine Harit (Morocco)
Most of Amine Harit’s Moroccan teammates had already landed in Qatar when he suffered an injury that would keep him out of the World Cup. The Marseille striker suffered a knee injury in his last club game before leaving for Doha.
The 25-year-old was taken away on a stretcher. The images broke Moroccan hearts. Local media outlets were inundated with messages of support from his teammates, and Harit will reportedly travel to Qatar to support his team during the tournament.
Arturo Melo (Brazil)
In one such incident where a player is injured without even being involved in a match, the Brazilian midfielder injured his left thigh while training for his club Liverpool. The injury occurred in October and will leave Melo out of the World Cup.
The 22-year-old showed his desperation in an Instagram post: “It comes just at a time when, after a lot of effort and hard work, I was ready to establish myself in my new team and determined to fight for my dream of playing in the world Cup”.
With age on his side, Melo may yet have another chance to play in a World Cup.
N’Golo Kante (France)
France coach Didier Deschamps will have a hole the size of N’Golo Kante in his midfield when the team takes the field against Australia in their opener of the tournament. The diverse midfield maestro suffered a serious hamstring injury last month, which has ruled him out until January.
The 33-year-old was a key player in the French midfield when Les Blues won their second World Cup four years ago. He was France’s man of the match in a few of the games during his run to the tournament and has been a regular name on the team sheet ever since.
It remains to be seen if he will be fit when the next World Cup rolls around, but age does not seem to be on his side.
Yuta Nakayama (Japan)
In addition to a long list of forwards and midfielders who have been left out of the World Cup, the Japanese Yuta Nakayama is one of those who work in defense.
The 25-year-old suffered an Achilles tendon injury while playing for his English club Huddersfield Town earlier this month. Nakayama has made 17 caps for Japan and was in coach Hajime Moriyasu’s Qatar-bound squad until he picked up an injury earlier this month.
Japan opens its campaign against Germany on November 23.
Jojo Wallacott (Ghana)
The Ghanaian side can expect to find plenty of support in Qatar when they open their World Cup campaign against Portugal on November 24. However, they will lose the defensive abilities of their goalkeeper Jojo Wallacott, who was ruled out of the tournament with a finger injury. .
Wallacott plays club soccer for England’s Charlton Athletic and was left out of the 26-man squad less than a week before the start of the World Cup.
Reports in the Ghanaian media suggested that Wallacott may still travel with the team, but will not participate in the tournament.
Giovani Lo Celso (Argentina)
Argentina is among the favorites to lift the trophy in Qatar, and not just because of a certain Lionel Messi.
The 2014 finalists have a solid roster of players on their team and a Copa América title to their name. However, one of the most important figures in that title conquest will not be in action in Qatar.
Giovani Lo Celso, a vital part of Argentina’s midfield, was ruled out following a muscle tear last month. Lo Celso is so critical of coach Lionel Scaloni that he has said there is no replacement for the 26-year-old midfielder. “Numerically there is a replacement, but footballingly there is not,” Scaloni told reporters earlier this month.