Ranked! The 10 best players of France '98

Zinedine Zidane Brazil 1998 World Cup final

Jonathan Wilson looks at the legends who lit up the 1998 World Cup: featuring three fantastic Frenchman and a couple of brilliant Brazilians

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10. Zinedine Zidane, France

His two goals in the final, both headed from corners, have led to the impression this was Zidane’s tournament. But although he was good, he was far, far better at Euro 2000.

Here, Zidane's corner set up Christophe Dugarry in France’s opener against South Africa, and he then spun brilliantly out of a challenge and flicked a pass out for Lizarazu to tee up Thierry Henry’s opener against Saudi Arabia. A red card for a stamp on Fuad Amin rather soured that match, though, and he was subdued in both quarter-final and semi before bursting back to life against Brazil.

9. Dunga, Brazil

It's not fashionable to praise Dunga – after all, who watches football for diligence and intelligence rather than flamboyance? – but his impact was again immense. This was not his tournament in the way 1994 had been, but he was still vital to Brazil’s well-being, particularly in the semi-final against the Dutch as all around him seemed to be losing their heads.

And for those who claimed he couldn’t actually kick a ball, he yet again kept his nerve to score a penalty in a high-pressure shootout. A self-sacrificing player and a first-class captain who, frankly, deserves a little more respect.

8. Edgar Davids, Netherlands

Davids had been sent home from Euro '96 after telling his coach Guus Hiddink that "he needed to take his head out of the arses of certain players", but they'd made up before the World Cup. Davids repaid Hiddink’s forgiveness with a string of outstanding, selfless performances.

Snarling and snapping, he allowed Frank de Boer the time to direct play from deep; a guard dog who was also more than capable of making a pass or scoring a goal – as he did in the final minute against Yugoslavia, driving in from the edge of the box to win a tense second-round match.

7. Juan Sebastian Veron, Argentina

Never judge a player only by what he does in the Premier League. Veron in 1998 was exceptional, a player with the vision and range of passing that would have made him a playmaker in most countries, but with a sufficient engine that Argentina felt they could afford to play him deeper. 

The one-two with Diego Simeone to lay on Ariel Ortega’s first against Jamaica was magnificent, as was the invention that led him to take a short free-kick to Javier Zanetti in the second-round game against England. His best assist, though, came against the Dutch – a sumptuous long pass for Claudio Lopez.

6. Christian Vieri, Italy

At his best, Vieri’s blend of power and skill made him almost unplayable, and this was as close as he got to his best in a major tournament. He side-footed the opener against Chile, scored with a brilliant chipped finish and bundled another against Cameroon, and thumped in a header to put Italy ahead against Austria. 

He scored the only goal with his weaker right foot as Italy beat Norway in the second round before, like so many before him, being marked into oblivion by Desailly in the quarter-final. He did, at least, score his penalty in the shootout.