Yet another reason to keep an eye on Qatar 2022. Not only is it the first FIFA World Cup to be played in the Middle East and at the end of the year, but it could also be the first edition of this tournament in which more than one player joins the list of legends with five World Cups played.
This group is very select and currently has only 3 members. And if playing in the FIFA World Cup once is something unusual in the life of a professional soccer player, doing it five times is a limited possibility practically for the demigods.
That is why after 21 editions of the FIFA World Cup, in 92 years of FIFA World Cup history (with 12 years of pause), so few players have managed to remain at a high enough level to be part of the elite of their countries for at least 15 years, the time it takes to play 5 World Cups.
Players that have participated in five FIFA World Cups
So far, there are just 3 stars that have been able to remain with the level to be considered as key players to its respective National Teams for 5 World Cups. Two are fellow countrymen, and the other one is a representative of one of the most winning teams in the history of soccer.
Antonio Carbajal - Goalkeeper - Mexico
The famous Tota is considered one of the all-time greatest of Mexico. He achieved to assist and play the following FIFA World Cups: Brazil 1950, Switzerland 1954, Sweden 1958, Chile 1962, and England 1966. Unfortunately for him, el Tri is not used to advancing to deeper stages of the tournament, that is why he just played 11 games. He was the very first star to enter this group
Lothar Matthäus - Defender / Midfielder - Germany
Matthäus was a brilliant polifacetic player, capable of defending and creating danger to the Mannschaft's rivals. This capability of playing several positions, and his discipline allowed him to set and still own the record of the player with the most FIFA World Cup games played with 25. He was part of the German National Team in Spain 1982, Mexico 1986, Italy 1990, United States 1994, and France 1998.
Rafael Marquez - Defender - Mexico
Former FC Barcelona's star has a close fight against Hugo Sanchez when the goal is to define Mexico's best player ever. The Kaiser has not only played in Korea-Japan 2002, Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014, and Russia 2018 (where he has retired), he accomplished the feat of being his team captain in at least one game of the five FIFA World Cups he played.
The candidates that could join the list of five FIFA World Cups played
Qatar 2022 could become the first edition of this tournament in which more than one player joins the group of five World Cups played. 5 prospects are waiting in line, however only one of them is almost sure to reach Carbajal, Matthaüs, and Marquez.
Lionel Messi - Forward - Argentina
One of the very few outstanding items on the to-do list of this legend of soccer. The Rosario native is will be in Qatar 2022, as Argentina has already qualified for the upcoming FIFA World Cup if basically, the injuries respect him. At the age of 35 years, he could become the youngest to have played five editions of soccer's main tournament. His previous participations: Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014, and Russia 2018.
Cristiano Ronaldo - Forward - Portugal
The Madeira native has been in the same FIFA World Cups as Messi so far, and this trend will continue in Qatar 2022 as Portugal has overcome Turkey and North Macedonia to grab one of UEFA's latest available spots. If nothing rare or tragic happens, Ronaldo will join this exclusive group along with Lionel.
Andrés Guardado - Midfielder - Mexico
El Tri will participate in its eighth consecutive FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022. So, Andres Guardado just has to take care of injuries (a problem he has dealt with throughout his career) to be able to join his countrymen Antonio Carbajal and Rafael Marquez in the group of five World Cups played. The current Real Betis player has attended the editions of 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018, so far.
Sergio Ramos - Defender - Spain
A true legend of Spanish soccer is paying the bills of almost 20 years as a professional soccer player. The injuries have prevented him from having regularity with Paris Saint Germain. However, if he achieves to be healthy enough, and Luis Enrique considers there is a spot for him in the squad, he could add Qatar 2022 to Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014, and Russia 2018 as the World Cups in which he has played.
The players who could join the list of 5 FIFA World Cups attended
Yes, it is not the same just to witness than to be part of a play. However, it is still meritorious to have been considered in the elite of a National Team for 2 decades. These to players could join the group of Carbajal, Matthäus, Buffon and Marquez.
Guillermo Ochoa - Goalkeeper - Mexico
Ochoa is in the same situation as Andres Guardado, except that he has not played 4 but 2 editions of the FIFA World Cup. Memo was part of the roster of Germany 2006, and South Africa 2010, nevertheless he has not played any minute of them. His appearances began in Brazil 2014. With Mexico already qualified for Qatar 2022, and if nothing unusual occurs, at 37 years old, the current Club America leader will attend his fifth World Cup.
Pepe Reina - Goalkeeper - Spain
Unai Simón, David de Gea and Robert Sanchez are Luis Enrique's trusted guardians for the Spanish goal. But if something happens to then, the 39-year-old Lazio goalkeeper could easily join the roster. Ultimately, this is not an unknown situation for Reina, who has attended the previous 4 editions of the FIFA World Cup but has just played one game (vs Australia in Brazil 2014).