Best players whose countries did not make the World Cup
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden
An explosive striker with an unparalleled skill set, Ibrahimovic can change a game single-handedly. While he had a slightly down year for Barcelona this season, he was the best player in Serie A in 2008-09, leading Inter Milan to the title.
Amr Zaki, Egypt
Egypt's heart-breaking (and riot-inducing) loss to Algeria in the playoff means that the talented striker will not be able to showcase his skills this summer. While on loan from club team Zamalek, Zaki scored 10 goals in the Premiership for Wigan in the 2008-09 season. In 57 career international appearances, Zaki has scored 28 times for Egypt.
Yossi Benayoun, Israel
The Israeli international was one of Liverpool's most consistent players this season. The team's current captain, Benayoun has scored 20 career goals for Israel from his attacking midfield position.
Hugo Rodallega, Colombia
The 24-year-old striker has become the most dangerous force up top for Premiership side Wigan. He has 8 international goals in 22 caps for Colombia, which finished one point behind fifth-place Uruguay for the CONMEBOL playoff spot.
The Altintop brothers, Turkey
The Altintop twins are probably the best active football-ing family. Hamit (pictured) plays his club ball for Bayern Munich, while Halil recently transferred to Frankfurt from Schalke. Between them, they have 82 caps and 11 international goals. Just don't try to tell them apart!
Alexander Hleb, Belarus
Hleb, currently on loan to German side Stuttgart from Barcelona, wears the captain's armband for Belarus. A former Arsenal player as well, Hleb (chesting the ball in the photo) has six career international goals in 48 caps from his attacking midfield position.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Ukraine
The former Zenit St. Petersburg captain now plays his club ball for German power Bayern Munich. With 92 caps to his credit, Tymoshchuk (foreground) is one of Ukraine’s most accomplished international players. Ukraine’s absence also means no Andriy Shevchenko.
John Arne Riise, Norway
A left back with a rocket for a shot, Riise plied his trade for seven years at England power Liverpool. He had a fantastic season for Roma this year, helping the Italian side secure a Champions League berth for next year. Unfortunately for Riise, Norway is not a particularly strong side and wasn't favored to make the World Cup.
Antonio Valencia, Ecuador
The man who patrols the right wing for Manchester United has shown tremendous improvement in his first season at Old Trafford. In CONMEBOL qualifying, however, Ecuador finished a point behind Uruguay for the playoff spot.
Gareth Bale, Wales
The Tottenham midfielder's terrific form of late gives him the edge over Manchester City's Craig Bellamy as the Wales representative on this list. To think, Wales making the World Cup might have brought Ryan Giggs -- "The Welsh Wizard" -- out of international retirement.
Adrian Mutu, Romania
It's unclear if Mutu would have been able to play in the World Cup this summer after he was given a nine-month ban in April for failing a doping test. Still, the Romanian striker is an unbelievable talent, having scored 29 goals internationally in his career, while netting 50 in his last four years at Fiorentina. Honorable mention here to countryman Cristian Chivu of Inter.
Ivica Olic, Croatia
The man whose hat trick put Bayern Munich in the Champions League final will not be on the big stage this summer. Croatia's absence from the World Cup also means that Tottenham star Luka Modric will not be there, either.
Andrei Arshavin, Russia
The little winger has proven he can play outside of Russia, becoming a regular first-teamer with England powerhouse Arsenal. The world will not get to witness his crafty exploits this summer, however, after Russia was stunned in a playoff loss to Slovenia.
Petr Cech, Czech Republic
Recognized everywhere for the helmet he wears (he nearly cracked his skull open when he collided with Stephen Hunt's knee), Cech is the man in net for Premiership champions Chelsea. Had the Czech Republic qualified, they would be an instant threat with Cech between the posts.
Shay Given, Ireland
Given's Ireland side would have made it to the World Cup this year, but for Thierry Henry's infamous handball that wasn't called in the second leg of the playoffs. Given has been spectacular in net for Manchester City this season, though a recent dislocated shoulder may have kept him out of the World Cup had Ireland qualified.