Football Stars Who Failed Miserably at the Olympics

Football Stars Who Failed at the Olympics

Several football stars turned out to have been unable to carry their countries to success while playing at the Olympics. Olympic 2024 is getting closer, and playing at such a global multisport event is always a dream for every athlete. Footballers are no different.

Football has been part of the Summer Olympics since 1900. It was considered the most prestigious international competition before the FIFA World Cup was created in 1930. Despite the dispute between the IOC and FIFA in the early years regarding the tournament’s importance and rules of the squad, football at the Summer Olympics still attracts global football stars to take part in the competition.

In Paris 2024, France is aiming to win its second gold medal. They last clinched it back in Los Angeles in 1984. The Olympic team will be led by Thierry Henry as head coach. As each team is allowed to name three over-aged players above 23 years old, the former Monaco boss is hoping to call up Kylian Mbappe for the squad, as well as another senior star and World Cup winner, Antoine Griezmann, to help their campaign. Meanwhile, Argentina is also expecting Julian Alvarez and Emiliano Martinez to join the U23 side under the former Barcelona and Liverpool man, Javier Mascherano. Should they all manage to gain their clubs’ permission, the Paris Olympic 2024 football tickets are likely to be in high demand.

Unfortunately, not all-star players have been able to demonstrate their quality. Being a top figure did not guarantee any success. Such is not exactly new, and some well-known global names performed badly at the Olympics. Here are some of the stars who failed to win a single medal or performed below par.

David De Gea and Juan Mata (Spain)

De Gea and Juan Mata were part of the Spain U23 squad at the 2012 London Olympics. The goalie was already a mainstay at Manchester United in the same year, while Mata was part of the Spain squad that won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and EURO 2012. He even just helped Chelsea win their first Champions League title before the summer tournament.

Unfortunately, they both were not able to inspire the team to replicate their success at the club and on the senior team at the Olympics. Spain was even winless and scoreless at the group stage, losing twice against Japan and Honduras and only mustering a goalless draw versus Morocco. Such was a woeful campaign for the team, whose senior side had just won the World Cup two years earlier and had a star-studded squad in the competition.

Edison Cavani & Luis Suarez (Uruguay)

These two frontman duos were the key figures in Uruguay’s rise in the 2010s. They were paired up with Diego Forlan as the trio brought La Celeste to the 2010 World Cup semifinals as well as clinching the Copa America title in 2011. Cavani and Suarez were also known as prolific goalscorers in their clubs. The former rose to prominence at Napoli before switching sides to PSG and enjoying a trophy-laden stint in Paris. The latter thrived in Liverpool, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid with a top scorer award in La Liga 2015/16, meddling with the Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly beside the silverware.

However, both were surprisingly scoreless at the 2012 Olympics. Suarez did slightly better by registering one assist in the opener versus the UAE, which was their only win. Yet, they were unable to lead the U23 team to the round of eight as Uruguay was beaten by Sadio Mane’s Senegal and Great Britain. La Celeste has yet to qualify at the Olympics again ever since.

Aaron Ramsey (Great Britain)

The 33-year-old Welsh international was named in the Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics alongside English players. He featured in all four games and netted once while sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw against South Korea in the quarterfinal. Sadly, he failed to help them go through the semifinal, as they lost on penalties.

Such was in contrast to his performance at his clubs, most notably with Arsenal and Juventus, and in his own country. The central midfielder was the key player in the squad despite his proneness to injuries and won several silverware, including three FA Cups and an Italian Serie A title in 2020. Ramsey also contributed heavily when Wales reached the semi-finals of EURO 2016 and qualified for EURO 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The current Cardiff City man registered one goal and four assists in France in 2016 and only netted once in EURO 2021.

Ronaldinho (Brasil)

The two-time FIFA Best Player Award winners in the 2000s made appearances twice at the Olympics: in Sydney 2000 and in Beijing 2008. Unfortunately, he did not win a gold medal in either edition. In 2000, the Brazilian talisman only bagged one goal and was unable to help them reach the semi-final. Meanwhile, in Beijing, the former PSG and AC Milan man did better, as he led the U23 side to win the bronze medal and contributed two goals and one assist.

Such achievement was nothing compared to what he did with the senior team and his clubs, particularly with Barcelona and Atletico Mineiro. Ronaldinho was instrumental when Selecao clinched their fifth World Cup in 2002 as well as the FIFA Confederation Cup in 2005. The former attacking midfielder scored two goals and made three assists in the former, and he notched up three times and created one assist in the latter tournament. He also won two league titles and the 2006 UEFA Champions League for the Catalan giant. In addition, he lifted the Copa Libertadores trophy for the Mineiro-based club in 2013.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

The 39-year-old superstar also had a miserable performance at the Olympics. He was included in the 2004 Athens Olympics squad but failed to help his team advance to the knockout stage. CR7 only featured twice and scored once in the competition.

Such a performance was nowhere near his regular form for the senior team and his clubs. He was the captain when Portugal snatched their first titles in major competition at the senior level: EURO 2016 and the UEFA Nations League 2019. Ronaldo also won five Champions League titles with Manchester United and Real Madrid, plus the FIFA Club World Cup. The former Sporting Lisbon man also clinched five league titles for the Red Devils, Los Blancos, and Juventus. He is also still the current record holder in goal scoring at UCL with 140 goals.


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