There could be nothing worse for a professional footballer to watch the biggest sporting event in the world on television knowing that they could have been a part of it themselves. Still, every four years, several players whose nations failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup™ are forced to play a fan's role while Planet Football's elite go head-to-head for football's biggest prize.
A prime example is former Liberia icon George Weah, who was voted FIFA World Player in 1995 but never got the chance to display his talent on the biggest stage. The same fate will apply to a number of other stars when the global showdown kicks off in South Africa in 72 days' time. FIFA.com was keen to find out which players our users will miss the most at the finals, and six names stood out among the rest.
Sweden and Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic received the most votes with 35.08 per cent, closely followed by Egypt and Al Ahly playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika (33.64 per cent). Russian whirlwind Andrei Arshavin of Arsenal (14.23 per cent) will also be sorely missed, while Peru midfielder Nolberto Solano (6.09 per cent), Welshman Ryan Giggs (6.02 per cent) and Emmanuel Adebayor of Togo (4.93 per cent) came in fourth, fifth and sixth place respectively.
While Aboutrika and Arshavin only missed out on a place in South Africa by a hair's breadth after defeat in the play-offs, the likes of Ibrahimovic and Adebayor simply failed to live up to expectations in the qualification group stages. Solano and Giggs, meanwhile, are already in the twilights of their careers and it looks as though they will be hanging up their boots in the not too distant future having never appeared at a FIFA World Cup.
As well as the stars who failed to qualify, there are also a number of top players who will miss out on the first FIFA World Cup to be held in Africa due to injury. David Beckham and Michael Owen of England, Portuguese pair Pepe and Jose Bosingwa, as well as Dutchman Robin van Persie are just a few big names already ruled out or struggling to recover in time.