Football’s biggest showpiece can change a player’s life, either by shining a light on an emerging talent or elevating a household name to new heights. We look at five star turns who have been given the treatment …
Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)
Gyan, following that penalty miss against Uruguay in the previous World Cup in South Africa which cost his team a place in the semi-finals, had some unfinished business in Brazil.
Well, up to a point and on a personal level he finished it, scoring twice – against Germany and Portugal. Soon he was to become the highest-paid Ghanaian footballer of all time following another bumper deal with his UAE-side Al Ain that will earn him at least €10m per year.
Alas, despite the former Sunderland striker enhancing his personal fortune, Ghana could not reproduce their heroics of four years ago and they fell at the first hurdle along with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
World Cup stats: 270 mins played, 2 goals, 1 assist.
Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
On face value, you’d have to conclude that Luis Suarez’s returning to fitness in time for the World Cup did him no favours. After all, everyone already knew how good the double Premier League player of the year was. And when he departed in shame after taking a bite out of Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder, the reputation of a man with previous in this area appeared to be tarnished beyond repair.
Yet, had those two brilliantly taken goals against England already done enough to persuade Barcelona to take him to the Nou Camp to play alongside Messi and Neymar? Certainly, the mudslingers seemed take a step back after that transfer and soon we were hearing calls for FIFA’s four-month ban to be reduced.
World Cup stats: 178 mins played, two goals, 1 big bite.
Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast)
The right-back played his first game for the Elephants in a World Cup qualifier against Gambia last year. In that short space of time, Serge Aurier has turned more than a few heads. His form in Brazil was enough to persuade mega-rich PSG to sign him on loan, with the French side having the option to buy the 21-year-old next summer. Aurier played 70 league games for Toulouse after moving from Lens in 2012 and has 10 caps for Ivory Coast.
World Cup stats: 270 mins played, 0 goals, pass completion rate 72 per cent.
Lucas Biglia (Argentina)
Albiceleste fans feared for their defence but Biglia, alongside the brilliant Javier Mascherano, was something of a hidden jewel and provided a shield in front of the back four. Alejandro Sabella’s team kept clean sheets throughout the knockout rounds and were only breached in the final in extra-time.
Tactically astute and a fine passer of the ball, Biglia was a substitute throughout the group stages, but earned a chance to impress in the last 16 game against Switzerland when he came on in the second half of extra-time. He never looked back. His World Cup displays could see him leave Lazio and head to the Premier League, with Manchester United and Arsenal both interested.
World Cup stats: 349 mins played, 0 goals, pass completion rate 82 per cent.
Daley Blind (Holland)
The Dutch were a breath of fresh air, brushing aside Spain 5-1 in their opening game and coming so close to a place in the final, losing out to Argentina on penalties. Blind was one of many young stars to step up to the plate, operating on the left flank in Louis van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation.
His floated cross for Robin van Persie’s memorable diving header against Spain set the tone. Blind, the son of former Ajax captain Danny, has a growing list of admirers, with Manchester United doing battle with Barcelona for his signature. Given Van Gaal’s arrival at United and left-back Patrice Evra’s departure, do not be surprised if Blind ends up at Old Trafford, for a fee of around €20m.
World Cup stats: 670 mins played, 1 goal, 2 assists.