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5 Players That Made Their Name at the World Cup


Gilberto Silva

Brazil’s 2002 World Cup hopes took a hit with their captain Emerson being ruled out due to injury, but up stepped 25-year-old Gilberto Silva, who at the time had only played in Brazil, but for Brazil, he became an integral part of their World Cup winning squad.

While the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo got all the headlines throughout the tournaments, it was Silva’s consistent performances in the midfield that allowed the attackers to do what they did and you can tell how much he meant to Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team as he played every single minute at the tournament.

Soon after the tournament, Silva was the attraction of many European clubs after controlling midfields containing the likes of Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt and just over a month after the final, it was English champions Arsenal, who sealed his signature for €7 million.

James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has gone down in football folklore, with his goals, performances and great Colombia wins and off the back of the great tournament, securing a move from AS Monaco to Real Madrid for €75 million, just a year after moving for €45 million.

Rodriguez was just 22 during the 2014 World Cup and with Radamel Falcao missing, Colombia were looking for someone else to step up and Rodriguez did more than that, carrying Colombia through the group stage with three wins from three, contributing with three goals and two assists.

Rodriguez didn’t stop at the group stage, with his most famous moments coming in the knockout rounds, scoring two goals to knock out Uruguay, with his volley being arguably the greatest goal the World Cup has ever seen.

Whilst Rodriguez and Colombia were knocked out to hosts Brazil in the next round, with Rodriguez scoring a consolation penalty, Rodriguez’s performances at the World Cup put him on the radar of every big European club and it was the European champions, Los Blancos, who were able to secure his signature.

Keylor Navas

When Costa Rica were drawn into a group with Uruguay, Italy and England, all in the top ten of FIFA’s World Rankings, it was a given from anybody you would ask at the time that they would finish bottom of the group and exit the World Cup, but instead, they were just penalties away from the semi-final.

At the time Keylor Navas had just one year of experience in a top flight, playing for Levante in the build-up to the World Cup, which meant he was coming into the 2014 World Cup as pretty much an unknown entity, but he left the World Cup with multiple top European clubs after his signature.

Navas didn't have much to do during the group stage with Costa Rica dominating most of their games, but conceding only one goal in the group of death which was very impressive, but his breakout game came in the round of 16 against Greece, where he made seven saves, as many as the whole group stage and then saving Greece’s penultimate penalty to send Costa Rica to their first ever World Cup quarter-final.

Navas had a just as good game in the quarter-final against the Netherlands, again making seven saves, but this time he was not able to save his team on penalties and Costa Rica’s great run was ended, but with Navas having a release clause in his contract of just €10 million, Real Madrid were quick to snap him up to add yet another player who shone at the World Cup.

Enner Valencia

Before the 2014 World Cup, 24-year-old Enner Valencia was completely unknown, having only played in Ecuador and Mexico, but after just three games for Ecuador, he became hot property, coming onto the radar of many European clubs.

Valencia had made just ten international appearances entering the World Cup, but he had to carry his country’s attack on the biggest stage of all, scoring his side’s only goal in their 2-1 injury-time loss to Switzerland, then his breakout game was scoring two goals to help his side comeback and win against Honduras.

After a goalless draw to France in the final group game, Valencia and Ecuador were knocked out of the World Cup, but Valencia then secured a €15 million move to Premier League side West Ham, just six months after moving to Pachuca in Mexico for just €3 million, which shows how a good World Cup can inflate a players price.

Aleksandr Golovin

AS Monaco were on the other side of buying an attacking midfielder after a successful World Cup, buying CSKA Moscow’s Aleksandr Golovin, who played a massive part in 2018 hosts Russia’s run to the quarter-final, only being a penalty shoot-out away from a semi-final appearance.

Golovin’s best performance came in the tournament’s opener against Saudi Arabia, scoring a goal and providing two assists, but he also caught attention in the quarter-final against Spain, helping his side in a great defensive performance, making six tackles and two interceptions, before scoring in the penalty shootout.

He wasn't able to help his side past Croatia and into the semi-finals, but he did show enough on the biggest stage to help convince Monaco to pay €27 million for his talents, their third-highest transfer fee paid at the time.