Did you know that the FIFA World Cup trophy went missing just seven days before the World Cup in 1966? Today makes it seven more days before the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar, so we will be profiling the best Number 7s from the last seven tournaments.
7. Marc Overmars (USA 94)
Despite his diminutive frame, Overmars’ speed, vision, and ability to use both feet made him a very tricky customer for opposition defenders. Former United Defender Gary Neville once named Overmars as the best winger he faced during his time at Manchester United.
Overmars was selected in all the Netherlands’ five matches. The eventual winner, Brazil, eliminated the Netherlands. He earned an assist against Brazil, which leveled the scores at 2-2- before a goal from Blanco settled the tie. Marc Overmars was voted the Best Young Player of the Tournament.
6. Deschamps (France 98)
Didier Deschamps is the first Frenchman to lift the World Cup trophy as he captained Les Bleus to a historic win over Brazil. His tough tackling and exceptional game reading made him the perfect screen for Emmanuel Petit and Zidane to shine through at the heart of France’s midfield.
He was not a flashy midfielder but effective in helping his more robust teammates thrive.
5. Oliver Neuville (Korea/Japan 2002)
The 69-cap German international initially required an interpreter to understand the coach’s instruction after electing to represent Germany at the senior level. Germany had to qualify for the tournament through the playoffs and did not have a compelling Group stage showing despite the 8-0 bashing of Saudi Arabia.
The second-round tie against Jose Luis Chilavert’s Paraguay was heading into extra time before the diminutive forward fired an awkwardly-bouncing ball past the intimidating figure of Chilavert. Neuville could have been the hero in the final for Germany with a thunderous free-kick from 35-yards which looked to be swerving into the top corner before Marcos pulled off an incredible save to tip the shot onto the bar.
4. Malouda (Germany 2006)
Standing at 5 foot 9 inches, the French winger pales compared to most of his compatriots who occupied the side of France’s midfield. Malouda was a regular feature for most of France’s qualifying campaign and was a nailed-on starter during the competition.
His most telling contribution came on the biggest stage in the final when his powerful run into the box earned a penalty for France off a foul from Zambrotta.
3. David Villa (South Africa 2010)
Nicknamed El Guaje, David Villa could do nothing to prevent Spain’s shock defeat to Switzerland in their first group-stage game. Five days later, he was the Architect-in-Chief as his two goals put Honduras to the sword. Villa missed a chance to get his hat trick when he missed a penalty. Villa scored five of Spain’s eight goals in the competition and added an assist as the La Furia Roja romped to their first-ever World Cup title.
2. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Brazil 2014)
Despite playing most of his early years as a wide midfielder, Schweinsteiger eventually transitioned into a more central midfield role due to his tactical awareness, passing, ability to dictate the game’s tempo and deadly delivery from set pieces.
Schweinsteiger suffered a cut on his left eye in the final game against Argentina. With Sami Khedira falling to injury just before the final, the then 29-year-old Bayern player stood up and truly earned his winners’ medal with a gladiatorial performance at the base of Germany’s midfield.
1. Antoine Griezmann (Russia 2018)
Griezmann is a versatile modern-day forward capable of playing all the attacking positions. He can finish chances even with his right leg despite being predominantly left-footed. Despite his relatively small frame, Griezmann has a good leap and is deceptively good in the air.
He was instrumental as Les Bleus ran out winners in an entertaining final against Croatia and ended the competition with four goals to his name.