#10 Rob Rensenbrink | Netherlands | 1978
Once again, however, Oranje met the host nation at the final hurdle and saw their dream snatched away from them.
Argentina took a first-half lead, but the Dutch pulled level in 82 minutes to turn the momentum of the game and almost rode the wave to victory in the last minute when Rob Rensenbrink chased down the ball in the box and knocked it past goalkeeper Ubaldo Fillol. Dutch hearts skipped a beat as it bounced towards goal, but the effort hit the post and the Argentine defence cleared the danger.
The match went into extra time, where the South Americans scored two more to win the crown.
#9 Chris Waddle | England | 1990
The Three Lions put in a solid display in the semi-final and were worthy of Gary Lineker’s 80th minute equaliser took the game into extra-time and then penalties.
The first six penalties were converted, but Stuart Pearce saw his effort saved, allowing the Germans to take the lead through Olaf Thon.
It came down to Chris Waddle to save England’s chances, but the winger sent his effort over the bar, sending the Germans through to the final, where they beat Argentina 1-0.
#8 Gonzalo Higuain | Argentina | 2014
Gonzalo Higuain could hardly believe his luck when a golden opportunity bounced into his path 20 minutes into the World Cup final in 2014. The Argentina striker was still far behind the Germany defence and heading back onside before Toni Kroos’ misjudged header sparked him into action.
Higuain ran onto it and was free of the chasing defenders as he set himself up to smash it towards goal, but he must have felt he should have taken a touch as his mis-hit went bouncing wide of Manuel Neuer’s goal.
Albiceleste team-mates Lionel Messi and Rodrigo Palacio would go on to miss great chances of their own later in the game, but Higuain’s inability to score on big occasions quickly made him a target of criticism.
#7 Pele | Brazil | 1970
Pele is credited with over 1200 goals in a career that cemented him as one of the best players football has ever seen, yet one of his most iconic moments was a glaring miss in the 1970 World Cup.
It was a moment of pure genius from the Brazilian as he galloped on to Tostao’s pass, but instead of taking a touch around encroaching goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz, Pele deceived him with a dummy and ran around to meet it on the other side. The attacker scooped the ball towards goal, but saw it bounce just past the post.As Brazil were already 3-1 up and went on to win the tournament, it was no decisive miss, yet it has gone down as one of the greatest goals that never was and an iconic moment in World Cup history.
#6 Yakubu Aiyegbeni | Nigeria | 2010
The Super Eagles saw an early lead overturned by goals from Lee Jung-soo Goal and Park Chu-young but looked set to take control of the game again when the ball rolled to Yakubu Aiyegbeni in front of an open goal. But the former Everton star was left embarrassed when he somehow diverted it wide.
Yakubu scored a penalty minutes later to square it up, but Nigeria were unable to find the advantage and went crashing out.
#5 Asamoah Gyan | Ghana | 2010
After Luis Suarez seized the role of villain to the rest of the world, the stage was set for Asamoah Gyan to emerge as the hero and strike a win not just for Ghana, but for justice, at the 2010 World Cup.
Suarez claimed to have made the best save of the tournament when he slapped a goal-bound header off the line in the dying second of extra-time in the quarter-final between Uruguay and the Black Stars.
Gyan could have rendered the striker’s sacrifice irrelevant when he stepped up for the penalty, but he smacked it off the bar, taking the game into a shootout.
Instead, it was Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera who played the decisive role, saving two spot kicks to help the South Americans through to the semi-finals.
“He could take a lap of honour and I was left to cry,” Gyan said years later. “It was up to me to write history, and I didn't do it."
#4 Kevin Keegan | England | 1982
A European, English and German champion and two-time Ballon d’Or winner, Kevin Keegan had already built a reputation as one of England’s heroes by the time the 1982 World Cup came around.
Keegan had been injured before the tournament and missed the group stage wins over France, Czechoslovakia and Kuwait, but was brought on to help England break the deadlock against Spain in the second round.
And England looked set to take the advantage when a cross found him in the middle of the box. The ball was at the perfect height for the bushy-haired attacker to nod home, but he sent it wide and was left on his knees wallowing in disbelief as the Three Lions crashed out.
#3 Christian Vieri | Italy | 2002
The two sides played out a brutal encounter in a controversial game which became tarnished by claims of corruption due to favourable refereeing towards the co-hosts throughout the tournament.
Still, they managed to maintain a first-half lead until the 89th minute, when Seol Ki Hyeon equalised.
With 30 minutes of extra-time looming, Italy wanted the game wrapped up quickly and responded immediately with a golden opportunity when a low cross rolled towards Christian Vieri at the back post. It was Vieri who had opened the scoring and he was the perfect man to take on the chance, but he sent it sailing over the bar in Baggio-esque fashion.
Despite Francesco Totti’s dismissal in extra-time, Italy seemed to score the golden goal, only to have it disallowed before South Korea went on to kill the game off.
#2 Arjen Robben | Netherlands | 2010
When Wesley Sneijder’s incredible pass found its way through the Spain team and into the feet of Arjen Robben, the key moment seemed to have arrived, but the Oranje attacker scuppered his chance, seeing his shot bounce off of Iker Casillas’ hip and out.
Instead, it was Andres Iniesta who seized the day late in extra time when he knocked it past Maarten Stekelenburg to confirm a glorious era for La Roja.
Robben, meanwhile, was left to regret his missed chance, which haunts him still. “It is part of sport, just a moment, a snapshot,” Robben said later. “But it will be part of me and part of my career for all of my life.”
#1 Roberto Baggio | Italy | 1990
The Divine Ponytail remains one of the most illustrious figures Italian football has ever seen, yet the defining moment of his career goes down as one of the most excruciating moments of a World Cup final.
Had it not been for Baggio, Italy would never have made it to the final. After a rough group stage, he hit top form in the knockout rounds and powered the Azzurri to wins over Nigeria, Spain and Bulgaria, scoring five goals.
Baggio even looked bright in the final against Brazil as they played out a goalless two hours to take the game into penalties. After seeing Dunga put Brazil 3-2 up, Italy’s hopes seemed to rest on the perfect shoulders as Baggio stepped up, but he sent his shot sailing over the bar, confirming the South Americans’ victory.
“I knew Taffarel always dived so I decided to shoot for the middle, about halfway up, so he couldn't get it with his feet,” Baggio explained in his autobiography ‘A Goal In The Sky’. “It was an intelligent decision because Taffarel did go to his left, and he would never have got to the shot I planned.
“Unfortunately, and I don't know how, the ball went up three metres and flew over the crossbar. As for taking the penalty in the first place, I was knackered, but I was the team's penalty taker. I've never run away from my responsibilities. Only those who have the courage to take a penalty miss them. I failed that time. Period. And it affected me for years. It the worst moment of my career. I still dream about it. If I could erase a moment from my career, it would be that one.”