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Five of the best Number 5s at the Last Five World Cup tournaments

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is just five days away!

In 1994, Russia’s Oleg Salenko scored five goals against Cameroun in a 6-1 rout of the indomitable lions setting the record for the most goals by an individual in a single World Cup match. In the same game, Roger Miller scored the consolation goal, making the history books as he became the oldest goal scorer in World Cup history at 42.

We continue in our series, and today we review five of the best players who wore the Number 5 shirt at the last five World Cup tournaments.

5. Alpay Özalan (Korea/Japan 2002)

Despite playing primarily as a Centre-back, Alpay scored a hattrick from open play against Macedonia in the qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup.

At the tournament, Alpay was a rock at the heart of Turkey’s defence as they romped to an impressive third-place finish at the 2002 World Cup. While Basturk, Hakan Sukur and Hasan Sas impressed further forward, Alpay was one of the critical reasons for Turkey’s impressive run.

His fiery character saw him pick up a red card, but he was not an exception, as Turkey generally lacked discipline in the competition, with 19 yellow cards and two red cards.

He was awarded Man of the match in Round 16 against Japan.

4. Fabio Cannavaro (Germany 2006)

The sweet memories of 9th July 2006 will remain memorable in the life of Italy’s Captain of the 2002 World Cup. His performance in the final oozed class and composure as the Azurri beat France to become World Champions.

Cannavaro played every minute of Italy’s campaign and was a mainstay in the defence as they conceded only two goals in the tournament. The first was an own goal, and the second was the penalty scored by Zidane in the seventh minute of their clash in the final. The Italians also kept a record five clean sheets.

His performances at the World Cup later earned him the World Player of the Year award for 2006.

3. Carles Puyol (South Africa 2010)


Puyol was a commanding presence at the back as Spain carried on their impressive form from winning the Euros in 2008 to the World Cup. He played all but six minutes of the entire campaign as the Spanish team matched Italy’s record by conceding just two goals with five clean sheets, the most by any World Cup-winning team. Despite standing at just 5 feet 10 inches, he was not one to be bullied aerially, and it showed that as he powered home a header in the semifinal against Germany to send his team through to the final.

Puyol ended the tournament with a pass completion rate of 88% and was named in the Team of the Tournament.

2.  Matt Hummels (Brazil 2014)

Hummels’s incredible physical strength and ability to read the game were vital as Germany became the first European team to win the World Cup on South American soil.

Despite missing the round of 16 match due to illness, Hummels marked his return to the starting lineup with a goal at the famous Maracana stadium to earn a 1-0 win for Germany over France. He finished the tournament with two goals and was part of a ten-man shortlist for the Tournament’s Golden ball.

1.  Samuel Umtiti (Russia 2018)

The last time France won the World Cup, they needed a brace from Lilian Thuram to edge past Croatia. Two decades later, Samuel Umtiti powered home a header to earn a place in the final for France at the expense of an impressive Belgium team.

Umtiti featured in six of France’s seven games, and his physical strength, pace and ability on the ball were vital as he helped carry the ball out from the defence against teams that pressed high. He put on an impressive performance in the final alongside Varane as France ran out 4-2 winners.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Bright

    Good piece.
    I think Fabio Canievaro didn’t have any card in that tournament too.

    1. Precious Omusuwe

      You are right. He had no yellow cards at all.

  2. KALEJAYE Ibrahim

    Excellent write up. but fortunately umtiti is nowhere to be found now

  3. Bright

    Seeing Umtiti in this list of lads just make me think of that being in the right place at the right time. He was just lucky to have been in a team to have won a world cup.
    Well PROFF

  4. Big Myroh

    One cannot possibly forget Fabio Cannavaro’s performance in 2006 in a hurry… He was just outstanding

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