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5 Iconic Players Who Saved Their Countries At World Cup

With each passing FIFA World Cup, a new generation of football fans gets their first glimpse of a magnificent player who has gone completely under the radar in club football. However, the time has dulled our memories of their contributions to their countries’ historic World Cup performances. We’ve seen many outstanding athletes step up for their country and carry them far into the tournament.

They’ve impressed every time they’ve played in the FIFA World Cup. The list of such cult heroes is long and includes names like James Rodriguez and Miroslav Klose. This article ranks the top five FIFA World Cup cult heroes.

Tim Krul (Netherlands)

Source: Getty Images

Numerous people will remember his brilliant penalty saves in 2014 that kept the Netherlands in the World Cup. Krul was not included in the Netherlands’ match roster for the World Cup. For the national team, he was not a mainstay. On the other hand, a single event drastically altered his status at the World Cup.

The most exciting sub came in the penalty shootout after extra time had already passed and the Netherlands and Costa Rica had failed to separate. Krul relieved Jasper Cillessen in goal and made two penalty saves to advance the Oranje.

Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

Forlan was a legendary player for Uruguay who wreaked havoc on the field and whose fierce competitiveness led to numerous goals for Uruguay at the 2010 World Cup. The 2010 World Cup Golden Boot winner got off to a great start when one of his goals was awarded the tournament’s Best Performance. With six goals in total, he left an indelible mark on the 2010 World Cup for Uruguay.

Batistuta (Argentina)

Until Lionel Messisurpassed him, he was the country’s all-time leading goalscorer. Due to the absence of their star player, Diego Maradona, who was suspended for doping, Batistuta emerged as a major player at the 1994 World Cup. And yet, Gabriel Batistuta carried the hopes of millions of fans and delivered a spectacular performance, capping it off with a hat trick against Greece.

As a result of their loss to Romania, however, the South American team did not advance out of the group stage. Batistuta scored ten goals for Argentina at this year’s World Cup, making him his country’s all-time best scorer.

Valencia (Ecuador)

The former West Ham player made an impression at the 2014 FIFA World Cup by scoring thrice. Despite Ecuador’s inability to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Ener Valencia made headlines again by repeating his 2014 World Cup success by scoring three goals at the 2022 World Cup.

Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)

The World Cup is the perfect stage for the former Malaga great to reclaim his glory days and deliver a stellar performance. When he first started playing goalie at the World Cup, he wasn’t very good, but since then, he’s gotten much better. He first came to widespread attention after the 2014 World Cup, when his string of spectacular saves held the attention of football fans everywhere.

As if every World Cup were an opportunity to demonstrate Ochoa’s extraordinary goalkeeping ability, he reenacted his performance from 2018. In the 2022 World Cup, he saved a penalty from Lewandowski to help Mexico salvage a tie.