The World Cup is certainly a stage which can make or break careers. For some it offers an opportunity to find their mark and have a shot at glory, but for some, who already have a larger-than-life status, it becomes extremely hard to live up to their reputation.
Massive crowd, national responsibility and wide expectations are the factors which contribute to the nerves and make matters worse for these big names. Here's a look at some of the players who entered the tournament on a high but left on a disappointing note, making them from Heroes to Zeros.
Be it his skills on the field or his affairs off it, Cristiano Ronaldo continues to hog the headlines for every thing that he does. But this time he was in news for wrong reasons. Scoring one goal in the last two years, spitting into the camera and his failure to credit Spain for the win, all earned him the infamous title of a 'spoilsport' at this edition of the World Cup.
The old and young Maradonas
While one of them was searching for glory as a player, the other was trying to find it as a coach. Lionel Messi, who has already won the FIFA player of the world award and Diego Maradona, a two-time World Cup winner, both failed to click as player and manager and slumped to a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Germany.
England star striker came into the World Cup after an excellent season with Manchester United where he scored 34 goals. Expectations were even higher with him being one of the most highly rate strikers in the world, but in the World Cup he was often let down by poor first touches and lack of penetration. He scored no goals in four matches that he played.
Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, commonly known as Dunga, was looking to become only the second man in the history of the sport to win the title as both the captain as the coach. His tactics to prefer form over experience backfired as Brazil put up a rather immature performance against the Dutch losing 2-1 after leading in the first half.
The Ghana striker, who was perhaps one of the best things that happened to his country, in this World Cup was the guilty party in a heartbreaking quarter-final defeat. A closely fought match, African expectations and the pressure of taking a last minute penalty in extra time, all took toll on him and his last minute penalty miss certainly turned him from a hero to a zero.
The highly rated Australian midfielder was shouldered with the responsibility to carry his side into the knockout stage. This ambition was marred by a red card against Germany that handed him a one match suspension.
The Japanese defender missed the crucial penalty against Paraguay in the round of 16 to end the Asian challenge at the World Cup. The result was a heartbreak for the Japanese, especially coach Takeshi OKADA whose semi-final ambitions went down the drain with the defeat.
The 31-year old Chelsea striker has done pretty well with the English club but the biggest competition in world football got the better of him and the entire French strike-force, which managed just 11 shots on target and scored only 1 goal in the entire tournament. This meant they only managed 1 point out of a possible 9.
The Italians are famously known for their excellent defensive record in world competitions but that was not to be the case in the World Cup 2010. The Italians, with Cannavaro at the heart of their defence, conceded goals in every match and thus departed from the World Cup without a single victory.
RI Myong Guk
The Korea DPR goalkeeper was a revelation for the Asian side in the World Cup qualifying. He kept clean sheets in six rounds of matches. Ri was awarded for helping Korea DPR to their second FIFA World Cup when he was named his country's Player of the Year last year. But all that was forgotten when the Portuguese romped Korea DPR 7-0 to knock them out of the group stages. In all, they conceded 12 goals in 3 matches.
Netherlands came into the World Cup final after winning all their matches in the tournament so far. In the final which reached extra time, the Dutch had shown a stern defence allowing little room for Spanish strikers. But all that was blown apart when John Heitinga received a second booking to be sent off leaving Netherlands with 10 men and no substitutions left which ultimately allowed Spain to unlock the Dutch defence and win the tournament.