The 2010 FIFA World Cup is just a few days away and we will be missing a number of the worlds leading footballers due to different reasons. Some are injured, while others were simply not selected by their national coaches.
Every participating nation has their own baggage to carry when it comes to players missing or having been left out. Some will be missed more, while others less but for all these players the dream of playing a World Cup has been dashed, be it their first or maybe their last.
I have put together my personal Top Five who I would be missing from the upcoming World Cup. And the reasons are as different as they can get.
1. David Beckham (England)
This would have been David Beckham's final World Cup and the poster boy of world football will be missed on a number of fronts. Maybe more as a media and marketing star, then in the English midfield as his best playing days are behind him, but Beckham is a phenomenon which is difficult to explain. You either like him or hate him. Over the years I have been amongst those who liked Beckham with all his limitations as a footballer, but the machinery behind him has taken personal marketing of a sporting superstar to a whole new level.
I remember seeing Beckham going down while playing for AC Milan in March 2010 realising his World Cup dream being over. A torn Achilles tendon ended all hopes.
2. Michael Ballack (Germany)
Germany will surely miss their captain and midfield engine Ballack. Like Beckham it was set to be Ballack's last World Cup and also his likely last chance of winning a major international title with Germany though Ballack has since said he will play on until Euro2012 as he would like to end his international career on a high.
Ballack is one of the most successful midfielders of our times, but he has failed to win continental and global titles with his club sides and Germany. He is seen as the personified runners-up. Be it with Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Chelsea FC he finished runners-up in the UEFA Champions League plus finished second at Euro2008 with Germany.
Ballack was unlucky that Kevin Prince Boateng went into him the way he did in the English FA Cup final on May 15. Initially it was thought that he had overstretched his ligaments, but in the end it was a tear, which meant an eight week break.
3. Ronaldinho (Brazil)
A few years ago Ronaldinho was one of the best players in the world. But then came Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, suddenly people weren't interested that much in Ronaldinho and the player had problems at FC Barcelona which forced him to move on to AC Milan. And it seemed Ronaldinho's best days were behind him, but the Brazilian had a strong season for Milan which started discussions back home about a possible return, but coach Carlos Dunga never ever thought about bringing Ronaldinho back nor other former stars like Ronaldo and Adriano.
Dunga has his clear cut views about his team and its composition, and players like Ronaldinho don't find a place in it. It also shows the unbelievable talent pool the Brazilians have if they can leave such players out with other options.
4. Michael Essien (Ghana)
Ghana will miss the services of their influential midfielder Michael Essien, who would have led the Black Stars from the front like in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. But for Essien 2010 hasn't been the best of years as he injured himself in the 2010 African Cup of Nations and couldn't play for his club Chelsea FC thereafter. And now he will be forced to miss the first FIFA World Cup on African soil. A loss surely to Ghana, but also us football fans as Ghana without an inform Essien is surely not as strong and competitive.
With the French team I couldn't decide on whom to name amongst the players coach Raymond Domenech has left out. The L'Equipe Tricolore under Domenech is a surprise package as you never know what will come out then on a good day they can beat anyone, on a bad day they can lose against anyone.
Likewise the logic behind Domenech's selection is often not understood. Players like Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, Marseille striker Hatem Ben Arfa and former captain Patrick Viera have not made the squad. One will have to see if Domenech can achieve something with his team in his last tournament in charge. If not then the players selection could come back to haunt him.
But these aren't the only players missing out on the World Cup. Argentina coach Diego Armando Maradona didn't pick Champions League winners Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti besides others, while Luca Toni and Francesco Totti will not defend the title for Italy, and Orange coach Bert van Marwijk didn't pick Ruud van Nistelrooy.
And then there are the star players of nations which didn't qualify for the World Cup. Amongst them Peter Cech (Czech Republic), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Dimitar Berbatov (Bulgaria) and Andrei Arshavin (Russia).
Do you agree with me? Or do you think other players will be missed more in South Africa.