Getting picked last for playground football is probably the closest most of us will ever come to knowing the heartbreak of being cut from a World Cup squad. Demoralising, right?
Equally, we'll never understand how it feels to be a world class star in a dwindling international side which fails to get you to the biggest tournament of all.
With this in mind, we've carefully selected the best 12 players who, for whatever reasons, won't be making the trip to the World Cup in Brazil next month.
Robert Lewandowksi - Poland
Wembley, 15 October 2013. As England brushed Poland aside and thus booked their tickets to Brazil, no player cut as forlorn a figure as Robert Lewandowksi. The man already knew his team had no chance of qualifying, a blemish on an otherwise sterling CV belonging to a serial goal getter for Borussia Dortmund over the past few seasons. A major tournament would have provided the ideal springboard before he starts the 2014/2015 season with new side Bayern Munich.
Arda Turán - Turkey
This rugged winger was an ever-present in the Atletico side which recently marched to a Spanish league title, upsetting the status quo held between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Chances are you’ll also remember his deft finish (tap-in) when wrapping up Atletico Madrid’s 3-1 away win against Chelsea during last month’s Champions League semi-final clash. Just a shame you won't be watching him in Brazil, on account of his native Turkey failing to qualify.
Philippe Coutinho - Brazil
Lucas Leiva and Rafael aren't the only Premier League-based Brazilians who have a right to feel hard done by Felipe Scolari. Philippe Coutinho has enjoyed a blistering season at Liverpool, providing much of the trickery, assist work and goals as Brendan Rodgers’ barely pre-pubescent crop of young stars took the title race to the wire. 2018 awaits.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Sweden
There was a bittersweet zest left in mouths all around when Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Sweden in a recent second leg play-off qualifier, ensuring he would go to Brazil while the world’s second foremost cartoonish, egotistical and physics-defying footballer wouldn't. The two-leg contest finished Ronaldo 4, Zlatan 2 (we’re not joking - the pair scored all the goals for their teams during the bouts), and, ever the bastion of modesty, Ibra shrugged it off, claiming "the World Cup is nothing without me.” We almost agree.
Aritz Aduriz - Spain
You know you’ve been criminally overlooked when even a misfiring Fernando Torres gets an inclusion in Spain’s provisional squad ahead of you. Particularly when you’ve just gone and banged in 16 La Liga goals for the season, just one behind Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. Granted, at 33, Aduriz isn’t all that spritely, but his one solitary international cap belies his goal poaching talent, which could have come in handy for Spain were Diego Costa's hamstring to play up again.
It’s been a productive season for the Welshman, notching 15 goals in La Liga, a sacred five in the side’s ascendency towards the Champions League final, and proving the perfect foil for team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo’s high intensity attacking. If it weren’t for the fact Wales are short on another few world class stars, the Red Dragons might have qualified, giving Bale another chance to justify his £85m price tag.
"Fuck France and fuck Deschamps! What a shit manager!" read the irate Tweet from Anara Atanes upon learning her beau, Samir Nasri, hadn’t made his country’s provisional 30-man World Cup squad. The axe was reportedly wielded because coach Didier Dechamps thought that Nasri, who's enjoyed his finest season in a Manchester City shirt yet as he claimed his second Premier League winners medal, would sulk if benched.
Much like fellow countryman Daniel Agger, the Dane will have to console himself over his country’s failure to reach the World Cup this summer by sunning himself on a mega yacht. So don’t pity him too much, instead feel sorry for your retinas, which won’t have the pleasure of seeing the cunningly footed attacking midfielder set the tournament alight. Achieving a 10-goal haul and bagful of assists for a floundering Tottenham side in his first season, we see no reason that he wouldn't have risen to the big occasion.
David Alaba - Austria
A permanent fixture for Bayern Munich, how 21-year-old Alaba must be wishing he wasn't Austrian right now. While the national team spluttered to a halt in qualifying, finishing third behind Sweden and Germany, he ended the qualification campaign as the country’s top goal scorer with six goals. Not bad for a full back-turned-midfielder.
Carlos Tevez - Argentina
According to reports, Tevez personally asked to be left out of Argentina’s World Cup squad because he’d rather take his family on holiday, meaning that the same stocky little man who recently guided Juventus to a 30th league title with 19 goals and won the club’s player of the season gong might be replaced by former Wigan man Franco Di Santo. Apparently he’s off to Disneyland. Talk about taking the Mickey.
John Terry - England
Having been rock solid alongside club mate Gary Cahill this season in both the Premier League and Champions League, rumours were rife that John Terry would lift his self-imposed international retirement and take that sponsored_longform into the Three Lions rear-guard if Roy Hodgson were to give him a call. Only time will tell as to whether it would have been a worthy risk.
Isco - Spain
Such is the attacking prowess of Real Madrid that Spanish wunderkind Isco has been severely restricted in terms of game time season this season, making Vincente Del Bosque’s decision omit the nifty 22-year-old midfielder from a Spain squad already crammed with world class dinky midfield talent all the easier. Still, how most teams would love to accommodate a player of his calibre.