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Football players that helped their country take the world cup

Football is a fantastic equalizer. Not everyone can afford a pony, and not everyone attends a school with a rugby field. But you will see kids kicking a football around everywhere, from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the slums of Nairobi to the playgrounds of Monaco and Beverly Hills. Maybe it’s because football players frequently rise above humble beginnings to excel in a sport that enables the best to become icons both on and off the field and real national heroes. Friends have been arguing into the wee hours over the top 10 World Cup heroes for decades. As long as football is played, these disputes will persist. Zidane, one of the greatest and most contentious players in history, helped France win the 1998 World Cup at home by scoring twice in the championship game. He missed most of France’s brief World Cup campaign in 2002 due to injuries, but he went on to win the 2006 tournament’s player of the year award despite the infamous headbutt that got him sent off in the championship game. When the team arrived home, tens of thousands of supporters lined the streets of Paris while yelling Zidane’s name. His talismanic leadership helped the national team become much more than the sum of its parts, scoring 31 goals in 108 matches for France. He went on to win three Champions League championships and two La Liga championships with Real Madrid as a coach. Jimmy Greaves was more adored by common English supporters than even the legendary Bobby Moore, whose statue welcomes visitors to Wembley Stadium.

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