C is for Roque Santa Cruz
Striker Roque Santa Cruz may have endured a frustrating time during his four-year spell with Manchester City between 2009 and 2013 but his World Cup pedigree makes for impressive reading.
The Paraguayan striker led his country’s strike-force with distinction over three separate tournaments – at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals.
At the 2002 finals in Japan and South Korea, the former City, Bayern Munich and Blackburn star was on target in Paraguay’s opening 2-2 draw with South Africa and he also figured in a 3-1 loss to Spain before helping the South Americans overcome Slovenia 3-1 to seal a place in the last 16.
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Santa Cruz also started that knockout clash against eventual finalists Germany with Paraguay being edged out 1-0 in what was a hard-fought encounter.
Four years later Roque and his compatriots were back on the biggest global stage at Germany 2006.
However, it was to prove a disappointing tournament with Paraguay departing at the group stages after successive 1-0 defeats against England and Sweden before a final 2-0 group win over Trinidad and Tobago left them in third place in the group standings.
Four years later, having scored times during the South American qualification, Roque and Paraguay achieved their World Cup high-spot to date at the South Africa 2010 finals.
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Though injury restricted him to a substitute appearance in Paraguay’s tournament opener against Italy which finished in a 1-1 draw, Roque started in the subsequent 2-0 win over Slovakia and goalless draw with New Zealand.
That earned the Albirroja a last-16 clash with Japan where they secured their place in the last eight in the most dramatic of circumstances thanks to a 5-3 penalty shoot-out victory after the game had finished goalless.
Paraguay’s progress was finally checked by eventual world champions Spain... but only after a terrific fight with David Villa’s 83rd minute strike bringing Santa Cruz’s memorable World Cup adventure to an end.