21. Mohamed Al Khlaiwi’s (40) contribution to Saudi footballing history has been nothing short of immense. The ever-reliable defender was a member of the Saudi Arabia team that reached the finals of a FIFA World Cup™ for the first time at USA 1994, where they performed creditably to qualify from the group stages, and four years later Al Khlaiwi was back at the finals when appearing at France 1998. A regular in the side throughout the 1990s, he played in the first four editions of the FIFA Confederations Cup, from Saudi Arabia 1992 to Mexico 1999. He also helped his side reach the final of the AFC Asian Cup on three occasions, winning once in 1996 and twice losing to Japan in 1992 and again in 2000. The majority of his club career was spent at Al Ittihad, with whom he won four Saudi league titles and the Asian Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999, later moving to Jeddah rivals Al Ahli before bringing the curtain down on his long career at Al Ahud.
22. Salvador Carmona (36) was a lynchpin of the Mexico backline for almost a decade, featuring appearances at France 1998 and Korea/Japan 2002 as well as three editions of the FIFA Confederations Cup – including El Tri’s 1999 triumph on home soil. Carmona also helped his country to victory at the 1996 and 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cups - beating Brazil in the final on both occasions - and impressed for Los Aztecas at the Copa America. He played his club football in his homeland for the duration of his career, mostly for Toluca with whom he won three national league titles and the CONCACAF Champions League.
23. Demetrio Albertini (40) played an integral role in building and maintaining AC Milan’s legendary status in the Italian and European game during his lengthy career with the club. Indeed, his 11 seasons at the San Siro brought the gifted playmaker a wealth of silverware, including five Serie A titles, two European Cup/UEFA Champions League trophies, two UEFA Super Cups, a Toyota Intercontinental Cup and three Italian Supercups. After departing i Rossoneri, Albertini made the switch to Atletico de Madrid before returning to Italy for spells with Lazio and Atalanta. He then enjoyed one last La Liga adventure, joining Barcelona in time for their 2004/05 title win – their first since 1999. On the national-team stage, the midfielder’s class inevitably made him an Italy regular and, in his first FIFA World Cup appearance at USA 1994, his prompting helped the Italians all the way to the Final – where they lost on penalties to Brazil. Four years later it was a similar story, when Italy were beaten on spot-kicks by eventual winners France in the last eight. His international career also featured two UEFA EUROs, in 1996 and 2000, with the latter also ending in a dramatic defeat against Les Bleus – on this occasion after extra-time in the final.
24. Denilson (34) is one of the few players to achieve a coveted international treble, which comprised victory at Korea/Japan 2002, the FIFA Confederations Cup Saudi Arabia 1997 and the Copa America of the same year. Briefly the world’s most expensive player after sealing a transfer to Real Betis, the fleet-footed left winger has led a nomadic existence since leaving the La Liga outfit, including sojourns in France, Saudi Arabia and the USA. His next stop was the land of his birth, where he helped Palmeiras win the Sao Paulo state championship and secure a berth in the Libertadores Cup. Packing his bags again, the peripatetic Brazilian then went to Australia to play for Perth Glory and on to Vietnamese club XM.Hai Phong, where a serious injury prompted a return to Brazil.
25. Takeshi Okada (55) is one of Japan’s most decorated coaches, having led the national side in two FIFA World Cup campaigns, first in France 1998 and then again in South Africa 2010. At the latter, a resurgent Japan made it past the group stages only to go out on penalties to Paraguay.
26. Filipe Melo (28) has been a familiar squad in the Brazil squad in recent years and was a key contributor to his team’s victory in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 in South Africa. However, the FIFA World Cup a year later in the same country was far less memorable for the defensive midfielder, who was sent off in his side’s 2-1 quarter-final exit at the hands of the Netherlands. Melo’s physical presence and distribution have kept him in demand during his club career and, after a period moving between Spanish clubs Mallorca, Racing Santander and Almeria, he made his way to Serie A side Fiorentina and from there to Juventus, who have loaned him out to Turkish side Galatasaray for 2011/12.
27. Deco (34) made an early decision to play his football for Portugal instead of the country of his birth, Brazil, in the belief that he could achieve more with the European side. His subsequent career bears out the soundness of that choice, with the midfield schemer nearly taking his first international honours at UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal, only for the hosts to suffer a shock defeat to Greece in the final. He was also a crucial cog in his side’s strong showing at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where the Lusitanians reached the semi-finals only to lose to France by the narrowest of margins. Deco’s considerable talents really came to the fore at FC Porto, where he swept the board domestically - winning the league, the Portuguese Cup and the Portuguese Supercup on three occasions apiece. Meanwhile, he also helped the Dragons win the UEFA Cup in 2003 followed by victory in the following season’s UEFA Champions League. Moving on to Barcelona, Deco continued his winning ways, taking two Liga titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy, but an ambitious move to Chelsea proved less successful. Unable to cement a regular first-team spot he turned back to his native Brazil where he currently plies his trade with Rio de Janeiro outfit Fluminense.