Seven players will play in their fourth FIFA World Cup: Claudio REYNA (USA), Oliver KAHN (Germany), Mohammed AL DEAYEA and Sami AL JABER (both Saudi Arabia), CAFU and RONALDO (both Brazil). USA goalkeeper Kasey KELLER is the only player to have participated in the 1990 FIFA World Cup before missing out on the competition in his native country in 1994. Only CAFU, AL DEAYEA and AL JABER actually played in all three earlier tournaments.
Team Lists in excel format
Team Lists in text format
Experience is everything...
The most capped player at the 2006 FIFA World Cup is Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed AL DEAYEA; with 181 appearances for his country to date, AL DEAYEA will be making his fourth appearance at a FIFA World Cup. He is closely followed by Mexico's Claudio SUAREZ with 176 caps. This year's competition features 13 other illustrious FIFA Century Club members (players who have clocked up 100 caps or more). When it comes to general experience at international level, Japan and Mexico lead the pack with a team average of 45 caps, whilst newcomers Ghana are at the other end of the scale with an average 15 caps.
Having participated in all 17 previous FIFA World Cups, Brazil are the competition's undisputed evergreens. In their ranks are the competition's most experienced players in terms of FIFA World Cup matches played: CAFU has lined up in 16 games to date and hot on his heels are his compatriots RONALDO (14 games) and ROBERTO CARLOS (13), closely followed by goalkeepers Fabien BARTHEZ (France) and Mohammed AL DEAYEA (Saudi Arabia) with ten apiece.
But size isn't...
The competition's shortest player is Christian LARA of Ecuador at 162 cm. In contrast, three players measure 202 cm: Jan KOLLER (Czech Republic), Zeljko KALAC (Australia) and Nikola ZIGIC (Serbia and Montenegro); notwithstanding their height, only one of these - KALAC - is a goalkeeper, whereas the other two are both forwards. Weighing in at 100kg, Jan KOLLER (Czech Republic) is also the heaviest player at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. At the opposite end of the scale is Mohammad AL SHLHOUB of (Saudi Arabia) at just 59 kg.
Veterans and novices
England's Theo WALCOTT (16.03.1989) is the youngest player in the competition and will become the youngest ever goalscorer at a FIFA World Cup if he finds the back of the net. Tunisia's goalkeeper Ali BOUMNIJEL (13.04.1966) will make it to fifth on the all-time list of oldest players, following in the footsteps of such greats as Roger MILLA (Cameroon), Pat JENNINGS (Northern Ireland), Peter SHILTON (England) and Dino ZOFF (Italy).
The average age of the 736 players taking part in this year's competition is 27 years and 4 months. In terms of oldest team on average, Czech Republic, France and Trinidad and Tobago share the honours at 29 years and 1 month, while Ghana are the youngest team with an average age of 25 years and 2 months.
The opening match will certainly be cause for celebration, and not just in terms of football: Germany's Miroslav KLOSE, born on 9 June 1978, will mark his 28th birthday with some style should he participate in the inaugural match.
Of the 736 players selected for this year's competition a few stand out when it comes to finding the back of the net, most notably Brazil's RONALDO who has scored an amazing 12 goals to date and is closing in on the current record of 14 goals held by Germany's Gerd MUELLER. Behind him is a trio of Europeans also known for their goalscoring talents: Germany's Miroslav KLOSE (five goals), Spain's RAUL (four) and England's Michael OWEN (four).
Youth and Olympic football: tomorrow's stars
Almost a quarter of all players this year (174 of 736, 24%) have appeared at a FIFA World Youth Championship, 67 players have participated in a FIFA U-17 World Championship and 134 have previously played in an Olympic Football Tournament. As Olympic winners in Athens 2004, Argentina have eight gold medallists in their ranks including Roberto AYALA, who like Hernan CRESPO also made an appearance in the final of the 1996 Olympic Football Tournament in Atlanta. Paraguay's team also features four Olympic silver medallists from 2004. USA goalkeeper Kasey KELLER stands out as a seasoned expert with plenty of youth competition experience: he lined up at the FIFA World Youth Championships of 1987 und 1989 and then made it to the senior team for the FIFA World Cup in 1990.
Shirt numbers are telling of the 32 qualified teams, five stand out when it comes to players wearing the same shirt number as in 2002: 11 of France's players will wear the same number, nine players on the USA team, and eight for Italy, Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia. Of the 11 Brazilian players who were FIFA World Cup winners in 2002, only four will be wearing the same number: CAFU (No.2), LUCIO (No.3), ROBERTO CARLOS (No.6) and RONALDO (No.9). Several new players to the FIFA World Cup will be taking on the mantle of responsibility in more ways than one, namely by wearing the shirt number of a former great: Lionel MESSI (Argentina) will wear number 19, commonly associated with former Argentina captain Daniel PASSARELLA in 1978, whilst Juan RIQUELME's (Argentina) number 10 was previously worn by both Mario KEMPES (1978) and Diego MARADONA (1982-1994) among others. Like GARRINCHA (1962) und JAIRZINHO (1970/74) before him, Brazil's ADRIANO will wear number 7.
England wonderboy Wayne ROONEY will no doubt be hoping shirt number 9 is a good omen, as its previous owner was the great Bobby Charlton (1966/1970). Philipp LAHM of Germany will follow in the footsteps of Fritz WALTER (1954) in shirt number 16 and Netherlands' John HEITINGA will pull on shirt number 14, as did Johan CRUYFF in 1974. Two more who have to live up to their forerunners' reputations are Poland's Arkadiusz RADOMSKI (no.16, Grzegorz LATO, 1974-82) and Portugal's MIGUEL (no.13, EUSEBIO, 1966).
Host team development
Germany's players have developed in more ways than one over the past 30 years: FIFA World Cup hosts in 1974 and 2006, Germany's national squad have, on average, grown 6cm (178cm/184cm) and put on 6kg in weight (73kg/79kg)!
Croatia's team are keeping it in the family with no less than two sets of brothers and a father/son combination in their ranks. Robert (06.04.1974) and Niko KOVAC (15.10.1971), and Ivan (07.02.1978) and Jerko LEKO (09.04.1980) are all listed on the official roster, whilst father and son duo, Niko and Zlatko KRANJCAR, also feature as player and coach respectively. Taking things even further are twin brothers Philipp and David DEGEN of Switzerland who were born on 15 February 1983 and play as defender and forward respectively for their national team. They will be one of only five sets of twins to participate in a FIFA World Cup, joining the VAN DE KERKHOF (Netherlands), HASSAN (Egypt), DE BOER (Netherlands) and ZEWLAKOW (Poland) brothers on the all-time list.
*Home sweet home v. foreign shores *
Keeping their feet on solid and familiar ground are the national teams of Italy and Saudi Arabia; all of their players compete in their native country. On the other hand, all 23 Côte d'Ivoire players make their living abroad, playing in the highly-charged leagues of countries such as England, France and Italy.
The information given above covers all matches played before 23 May 2006.