The World Cup 2002 was a long time ago. Twenty years. More than 10 million minutes if we are very accurate. Believe it or not, some of the players who go to that tournament are still playing at a high level in 2022. Something very special is needed to accomplish this task.
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First of all, you have to be ready for the World Cup team when you are in, or just out of, your teens. After that, you have to keep running for the full 20 years as a professional, with all the physical exertion and knocking involved. We have selected eight players the only ones in the Japanese and Korean tournaments who are currently playing for money.
The Italian shooting stop is a timeless football icon. And, remarkably, 2002 was not even his first World Cup. He went to the 1998 tournament in France at the age of 20 as an option to support Gianluca Pagliuca but never played. In 2002 he was as defensive as the first choice, however, he wore gloves before Euro 2000.
But Buffon’s first FIFA World Cup did not go unnoticed. Italy was knocked out in the 16th round by South Korea’s extra-time gold medal, despite Buffon saving a controversial penalty in the regular period. Don’t worry. He won the title four years later as a penalty shootout champion in the finals and has collected 11 league titles, numerous home honors, and a UEFA trophy for good work. Now he is back in Parma where it all started in the mid-90s and, at the age of 44, he is still their No.1.
Joaquin went to the 2002 Football World Cup at the age of 20 and was tasked with taking the fourth penalty in knocking out Spain in a controversial quarter-final in South Korea. He missed out, but because of his injuries and inexperience, he probably didn’t have to take responsibility in the first place.
However, now 40, Joaquin has helped his youth club Real Betis win this year’s Copa Del Rey, the club’s first major trophy since helping them win the trophy in 2005. We think Joaquin is the best. But to be honest, that’s because he’s the only football player we know who tried to trick a chicken live on television.
Most remembered on the English coast for a short loan from Arsenal and living in Fulham and West Brom, Inamoto was five years into his professional career when the local Football World Cup overturned. Indeed, he had just been released by Arsenal at the start of the tournament and they may have regretted a bit of that decision as he scored two goals in the middle of the pitch, against Belgium and Russia in the group stage. For more to know about Qatar World Cup tickets Click here.
After settling in England and Turkey, Germany, and France, Inamoto returned to his homeland in 2010 and has played in Japanese leagues since then. He now turns to Nan katsu SC, named after a mythological team from the famous lie Captain Tsubasa and owned by a manga writer. They are currently competing in the first division of the Kanto Soccer League, the fifth division of Japanese football.
When asked about the secret of his long life with Friday Digital earlier this year, he said, I do not drink alcohol, and I try not to eat anything my body does not need. I eat every night, and I try to get at least eight hours of sleep. We’re not sure how every night and eight hours of sleep work together, but we’ll take his word for it.
Born nine days later Inamoto, his international teammate was in Feyenoord during the 2002 Football World Cup and has since played in Germany and Australia, and his native Japan. Unlike Inamoto, however, he did not lower this category. Ono plays for Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo in the J1 League, although he is rarely used.
Now 37-year-old Ogbeche has spent the past four years playing in the Indian Super League. But in 2002, he was 17 years old and surprisingly included in the Nigerian team. At the time he was playing for PSG and made his professional debut that season. He did not settle for a Paris club, however, joining UAE Pro League side Al Jazira after a double loan.
From there, his career became a real wanderer and he played for 12 other clubs in five countries, including a year with Middlesbrough in 2011-12. A highlight of his time in the North East was the West Ham bombing, which caused Sam Allardyce’s chewing gum to make a real impact.
Roque Santa Cruz
Will he ever stop? Probably not. And you shouldn’t, you’re still pretty good. We remember Santa Cruz very much as the man who crushed Barclays in Mark Hughes’ team the best Blackburn. He had a great time also, remember, with Bayern Munich, Malaga, and as part of that Paraguayan wild team in 2002, which included goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert.
Santa Cruz ended up covering 132 games and went to two other world cups. This year, he made a splash from Olimpia, the club where he named himself in the 90s and where he spent six years ago, going to their Asuncion rivals Libertad. He started the derby against Olimpia in early May and, you know, what we will say next.
A truly amazing talent, Cameroon goalkeeper Kameni won the 16-year-old Olympic gold medal in 2000 and was part of his country’s biggest team that went to the Football World Cup two years later. He did not play a game in Cameroon and was knocked out of the group stage, but returned to the biggest stage in football in 2010 and was expected to start at goal.
Manager Paul Le Guen preferred Souleymanou Hamidou, however, and Kameni watched again as Cameroon was quickly ousted. At the club level, he made a name for himself in Spain, first with Espanyol, where he won the Copa Del Rey and helped them reach the UEFA Cup final, then held Malaga as part of a team that reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League. He is currently at Arta / Solar 7 in Djibouti, playing alongside former international team partner Alex Song.
The big Swedish is still on the move, still scoring goals (occasionally), and still growing. It might have all been different if he had joined QPR at a young age, though?
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