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5 FIFA World Cup stars who prematurely retired from international football 

Neelabhra Roy
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Salenko didn't play a single international match following the 1994 World Cup

We are a little more than 6 months away from the commencement of the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. The whole of Russia is eagerly waiting for football’s biggest extravaganza with excitement and anticipation.

Over the past eight decades, several of the world’s greatest footballers like Pele, Cruyff and Maradona have played at the World Cup with many of them cementing their spot amongst the game’s all-time greats while many began their journey to stardom at this stage.

There have been numerous players who have mesmerized football fans through their performances at the World Cup. However, there are also quite some players who have produced scintillating performances at the FIFA World but ended their international careers prematurely. Here are 5 World Cup stars who retired from international football prematurely.

#5 Oleg Salenko, Russia

The 1994 World Cup was Russia’s first tournament after the breakup of Soviet Union. They did not have a memorable outing as they crashed out in the first round after losing to Sweden and Brazil. A win against Cameroon only salvaged some pride as their credentials weren’t good enough to be merited a spot amongst the best third-placed teams in the groups (the last World Cup this rule was deployed) and were out.

However, the only silver-lining Russia had in a rather cloudy showing was the performance of 24-year old striker Oleg Salenko. Salenko made himself a star at the tournament through only one match and that was against Cameroon. Salenko scored 5 goals in an eventual 6-1 win for Russia. This was a record for the most number of goals scored in a World Cup match, bettering the previous record of four goals held by Ernst Wilimowski, Ademir, Sandor Kocsis, Just Fontaine and Eusebio.

Salenko ended the tournament with 6 goals, having scored one against Sweden. He along with Hristo Stoichkov shared the Golden Boot. However, surprisingly, Salenko never played another international match for Russia following the 1994 World Cup. Salenko did have a few short stints in club football with Valencia and Rangers before injuries forced him to end his football career in his early 30s.

Also read: All time greatest XI to have never won the World Cup

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