ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?
The record for the most World Cup tournament appearances is shared by Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal and Germany’s Lothar Matthaus, selected for five consecutive tournaments each - Carbajal between 1950 and 1966, and Matthaus from 1982 to 1998. USA goalkeeper Kasey Keller will play in his fourth tournament at Germany 2006.
Keller would have equalled the five tournament record in Germany had he been selected for the 1994 tournament in the USA. He will need to be selected for South Africa 2010 - when he will be a sprightly 40 - to join Carbajal and Matthaus in the record books.
Along with Keller, six other players have been selected for their fourth World Cup Finals tournament this year. They are fellow USA player Claudio Reyna, Saudi Arabian duo Mohammed Al Deayea and Sami Al Jaber, Brazilians Cafu and Ronaldo, and the host nation’s Oliver Kahn.
A league of their own:
Leagues with the most player representation at Germany '06
English Premier League: 84
Serie A: 57
La Liga: 49
Ligue 1: 46
When it comes to the record for playing in FIFA World Cup matches, Lothar Matthaus also holds that record with 25 appearances. Italy's Paolo Maldini outscores Matthaus for total time on the pitch in World Cup tournaments, having racked up a record 2,220 minutes for Italy from 1990 to 2002.
The most experienced players in this year’s competition all play for the current World Champions. Brazilian Cafu is the most experienced with 16 World Cup matches, followed by teammates Ronaldo with 14 and Roberto Carlos with 13 appearances. For other nations, Mohammed Al Deayea and French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez fly the experience flag with 10 appearances each.
Matthaus’ record will not be broken this time around, even if Cafu plays in the maximum seven possible games for his country from Round 1 to the Final.
YOUNG AND OLD
The youngest player to play at a FIFA World Cup Finals tournament was Norman Whiteside for Northern Ireland, who was 17 years and 42 days when his side played Yugoslavia in the 1982 World Cup.
Most popular players' first names at the 2006 World Cup
Carlos, David: 10
Andriy, Jose, Luis, Marco, Michael: 7
Ivan, John: 6
This year, England's Theo Walcott is the youngest player selected in the competition and will be 17 years, 86 days when England takes on Paraguay in their opening match of the tournament. If he can net one for England, Walcott will become the youngest ever goal scorer at the FIFA World, besting Pele who scored for Brazil when he was 17 years and 239 days, against Wales at the 1958 World Cup.
Cameroon’s Roger Milla is the oldest player to have played in a FIFA World Cup Finals tournament when he took the field aged 42 years and 39 days against Russia in the 1994 World Cup. At 40 years of age Tunisian goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel will be the oldest player at the 2006 tournament, which will put him just fifth on the World Cup Finals list of oldest players.
Former striker Milla will continue to hold the record for the oldest player to have scored a goal at the World Cup finals (also when aged 42 years and 39 days), for at least another four years.
If age equals experience then Czech Republic, France and Trinidad & Tobago should be well served, sharing the highest average team age of 29 years and 1 month. World Cup debutants Ghana will field the youngest team, with an average age of 25 years and 2 months. The average age of all players selected for the 2006 finals tournament is 27 years and 4 months.
Germany's Gerd Mueller holds the record for most World Cup goals scored, plundering 14 goals in just two tournaments in 1970 and ‘74.
Mate against mate:
Clubs with the most player representation at the Cup
AC Milan: 13
Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United: 12
Bayern Munich: 11
The player in this year’s tournament with the most goals is Ronaldo who has hit the back of the net 12 times so far in 14 World Cup finals matches. With a possible seven matches to play in Germany, Ronaldo may well surpass Mueller during this tournament as the all time leading goal scorer in FIFA World Cups.
The record for most goals scored in one tournament is 13, held by Just Fontaine from France in the 1958 World Cup. Oleg Salenko scored 5 goals for Russia against Cameroon at the 1994 World Cup, and this stands as the record for most goals scored by a player in one match at the finals.