What a World Cup this is turning out to be! We have seen so much skill and excitement already, so many shocks and stories, and we’ve still got two weeks of football to go. Let’s hope the nail-biting drama continues! We’re looking for new World Cup Heroes to write about and here are 5 players on my list:
1. Alireza Beiranvand – Iran
It’s been a World Cup to forget for many top goalkeepers. Manuel Neuer, David De Gea and Willy Caballero all made bad mistakes as their teams were knocked out. So, who’s the new star stopper on the block? That has to be Alireza Beiranvand, who so nearly led Iran to the Round of 16. He made some great saves against Morocco and Spain, and he even kept out a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty! Not bad for a former shepherd who ran away from home to follow his football dream. He slept on the streets of Tehran until a club offered him a chance to play. What a story! Beiranvand is also an hilarious actor, as he showed when Diego Costa trod on his toe.
2. Diego Godín – Uruguay
We desperately need a new defender hero in the series, and is there a better defender in the world than Diego Godín? I don’t think so! Alongside José Giménez, he forms a solid brick wall for club (Atlético Madrid) and country (Uruguay). They don’t let anyone get through! Godín is 32 now but he uses all his strength, cleverness and experience to stop the best strikers around. In the Round of 16, Cristiano Ronaldo barely had a shot for Portugal. I can’t wait to see how France’s attack get on against Godín in the quarter-finals.
3. Luka Modrić – Croatia
For a four-time Champions League winner, Luka Modrić doesn’t always get the love that he deserves. But don’t worry – there’s plenty of space in our series for an Unsung Football Hero! When it comes to controlling a game in the middle of the pitch, the Real Madrid pass-master is one of the best in the world. For Croatia, he plays alongside Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitić. Now that’s what I call a midfield! In the group stage, Modrić scored a penalty against Nigeria and a worldie against Argentina. In the Round of 16 against Denmark, he missed a penalty in extra-time but still stepped up to score in the shoot-out. What a World Cup hero!
4. Hirving Lozano – Mexico
Hirving Lozano combines two of my favourite World Cup features – new stars and upsets. At every tournament, talented young players burst onto the scene, showing off their speed and skill. Lozano was already ‘one to watch’, and boy has he been worth watching! His winning goal against the reigning champions Germany was one of my top moments so far. On the counter-attack, the Mexican showed so much composure to cut past Mesut Özil and fire past Neuer. Lozano showed his quality against South Korea too, setting one up for Javier Hernández. Let’s see what Lozano can do against Brazil today!
5. Kylian Mbappé – France
Kylian Mbappé isn’t exactly a new star but he is still only 19 years old. How exciting is that?! The PSG forward started the World Cup slowly, like the rest of the France team, but in the Round of 16, he totally blew Argentina away. The kid has everything! First, Mbappé used his blistering pace to win a penalty for his team. Then, in the second-half, he used his shooting skills to fire France into a 4-2 lead. Who’s going to stop him – Godín? With Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo knocked out, a new World Cup superstar is born!