Three New Zealand footballers are playing at the FIFA World Cup, after all.
Former All Whites Ryan Nelsen and Ivan Vicelich and former Ferns captain Maia Jackman are members of the East Tigers team, playing in the FIFA Legends Cup in Doha, Qatar.
Main photo: The East Tigers line-up including Ryan Nelsen (third from left, back), Ivan Vicelich (second from right, front) and Maia Jackman (extreme right, front). Photo: Ivan Vicelich Twitter.
The Legends Cup, which is being streamed by FIFA+, brings together eight teams of retired footballers, all admired in their own countries and respected worldwide.
It’s being stage by FIFA on the rest days between the World Cup semi-finals and Sunday’s play-off for third place, to keep visitors to the tournament entertained.
The Kiwi trio are playing alongside Australian great Tim Cahill, French World Cup winner Christian Karembeu and a selection of retired greats from Asia.
The 30-minute games are being played on a specially-prepared artificial turf pitch at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Centre.
The games will conclude with semi-finals and finals to be played early Saturday morning (NZT).
FIFA Legends squads
Yakubu AYEGBENI, El Hadji DIOUF, Didier DROGBA, Michael ESSIEN, Khalilou FADIGA, GEREMI, Yaya TOURE, Perpetua NKWOCHA, Gaëlle ENGANAMOUT, Thomas NKONO (GK), Robert KIDIABA (GK), Demba BA, Sunday OLISEH
Dwayne DE ROSARIO, Luis HERNANDEZ, Alexi LALAS, Heather O’REILLY, Kristine LILLY, David SUAZO, Paulo WANCHOPE, Oswaldo SANCHEZ (GK), Stuart HOLDEN, Jorge CAMPOS (GK), Eloi WAGNEAU, Kevin KURANYI, Carlos MARCHENA
Ryan NELSEN, Maia JACKMAN, Heather GARRIOCK, Tim CAHILL, Ivan VICELICH, Kwan Sang CHA (GK), Du Ri CHA, Norjmoo TSEDENBAL, Pascal ZUBERBUEHLER (GK), Bambang PAMUNGKAS, Christian KAREMBEU, Mikael SILVERSTRE
Ali AL HABSI (GK), Wael GOMAA, Nawaf TEMYAT, Mehdi MAHDAVIKIA, Sarah ESSAM, Rafik SAIFI, Younus MAHMOUD, Mustafa MUBARAK, Neha ABDELAZIZ, Ahmed KHALIL (GK), Houssine KHARJA, Mehdi BENATIA, Roda ANTAR, Adel SELLIMI
Laura GEORGES, Marco MATERAZZI, Lothar MATTHAUS, John TERRY, Iker CASILLAS (GK), Michael SALGADO, David TREZEGUET, Christian VIERI, Fara WILLIAMS, Alessandro DEL PIERO, Francesco TOTTI, Alessandro NESTA, Demetrio ALBERTINI, Vincent CANDELA, Jens LEHMANN (GK), Massimo AMBROSINI, Youri DJORKAEFF, Jϋrgen KLINSMANN
South American Panthers
CAFU, Javier ZANETTI, Julio CESAR (GK), KAKA, Diego FORLAN, Roberto CARLOS, Aline PELLEGRINO, DIDA (GK), Maxi RODRIGUEZ, Diego LUGANO, Rosana AUGUSTO, RONALDINHO, Juan Pablo SORIN, Pablo ZABALETA
Nuno GOMES, Wesley SNEIJDER, Hristo STOICHKOV, Andrei SHEVCHENKO, Prisca STEINEGGER, Peter SCHMEICHEL (GK), Dario SIMIC, Predrag MIJATOVIC, Zvonimir BOBAN, Clarence SEEDORF, Luis FIGO, Emma BYRNE (GK)
South American Eagles
Juan Pablo ANGEL, Claudio PIZARRO, Ivan ZAMORANO, Isabella ECHEVERRI, Mario YEPES, Ivan CORDOBA, Rene HIGUITA (GK), Julio GONZALEZ, Faryd MONDRAGON (GK), Carlos TENORIO, Veronica RIVEROS, David AGANZO, Linda CAICEDO, Catalina USME
Infantino: ‘(These) players have written the history of football’
FIFA President Gianni Infantino says the FIFA Legends Cup is a way to bring icons of world football together and celebrate stars of the sport.
“Football is about joy, about smiles, about fun
“We are here with incredible Legends, world champions, players who have written the history of football.
“They (FIFA Legends) have made us fall in love hundreds and hundreds of times with the game. These football players who are here, they are not ex-football players, they go from the status of football player to the status of Legend.”