Confederations Cup in Russia is set to begin on the 17th of June and the tournament promises to be the perfect preview for the World Cup next year. Eight teams, including world champions Germany and European champions Portugal, will go head to head in a bid to get their hands on the coveted trophy.
The competition kicks off with hosts Russia taking on New Zealand in St Petersburg and the final will be held on July 2nd in the same city.
In the past few editions, the tournament has produced some memorable moments and some of the greatest names in world football have graced the field for their respective countries. Here we take a look at the five best players in the history of the competition since it’s inception back in 1992.
#5 Robert Pires
Robert Pires made a lasting impact on the 2001 edition of the tournament, co-hosted by South Korea and Japan, when he was named the Best Player of the tournament. The midfielder was instrumental in his nation’s successful run to the trophy and was also the joint top scorer in the tournament.
He went on to win the 2003 edition of the tournament as well with France and managed 3 goals in the tournament, taking his total tally to 5 goals in two tournament appearances at the Confederations Cup.
However, France never made it to the competition again but are still the second most successful country in the history of the competition, thanks to their wins in 2001 and 2003.
#4 Luis Fabiano
Luis Fabiano was Brazil’s spearhead in the 2009 edition of the tournament, held in South Africa, when the side managed by former player and legend Dunga went on to win the trophy. Brazil qualified for the tournament as the 2007 Copa America winners and were drawn into a relatively tough group with the likes of the then world champions Italy and the United States of America.
But they ran out as comfortable group winners by winning all of their games, thanks to the three goals from Fabiano including a commendable brace against Italy.
Fabiano scored another brace in the final when Brazil beat the United States 3-2 and also managed to win the Golden Boot award as well as the Silver ball, coming second only to teammate Kaka who pulled the strings for Brazil from midfield.
Both of his goals in the final came after Brazil were trailing the game by two goals and he led the comeback right from the front and ensured that his country came on top.
Brazil came into the 2005 Confederations Cup as World Champions and genuine contenders for the title but they didn’t have it easy during the group stages. The World Champions went on to win their first game against Greece but a loss to Mexico meant that they had to beat Japan in the last group fixture to advance to the semifinals.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw but Brazil went through thanks to a superior goal difference.
Brazil then faced Germany and Adriano scored a brace, including the winner, in a thrilling 3-2 encounter to set up a dream final against arch rivals Argentina. The striker delivered again as he bagged two more goals in the final when Brazil decimated their nemesis in a comfortable 4-1 win.
Adriano finished the tournament as the top scorer and also won the Golden Ball award, joining a prestigious list including Ronaldinho, Pires and Thierry Henry who bagged both the individual awards in the history of the competition.
Despite having all the attributes of becoming one of the greatest strikers in the world, Adriano’s career suffered a huge downfall due to his antics outside the field. A lesson to remember for any upcoming footballer!
#2 Fernando Torres
Spain made their presence felt in two editions of the tournament but failed to go all the way on both occasions. La Roja finished third in the 2009 edition while they could only finish as runners-up in the 2013 edition when they lost to hosts Brazil in the final.
However, Torres was the only shining light in their two campaigns as the striker managed to bag 8 goals in both editions combined and also won the golden shoe award in 2013. The Spaniard is also the second leading top scorer in the history of the competition and also has two hat-tricks to his name.
Ronaldinho took the world by storm as a 19-year-old during his first Confederations Cup tournament in 1999. The vibrant young midfielder who was playing for Gremio at that time finished the tournament as the leading goal scorer and also won the Golden Ball award, becoming the first player to achieve the feat of grabbing both the individual awards in a single tournament.
He went on to win the World Cup in 2002 and was a key part of the Brazil side who won the Confederations Cup again in 2005.
Ronaldinho is the tournament’s all-time leading goal-scorer and has played an undeniably creditable part in Brazil’s glory years. The player has also been a sensation all around the world, thanks to the smile he possessed whenever he took the field.