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Spurs at the World Cup - Ziege's milestone, 2002

11 June 2014|Tottenham Hotspur

We continue our series featuring Spurs players to have stepped out at the World Cup with Brazil 2014 set to kick-off on Thursday.

Next up, three players at Japan/South Korea in 2002 - and our first finalist...

Christian Ziege - Spurs 2001-2004, 55 appearances, 10 goals

Defender Christian Ziege became the first Spurs player to ever feature in a World Cup Final, when Germany reached the showpiece match in 2002.

An established international who had made his debut for Germany in June, 1993, in a 3-3 draw with Brazil, Ziege was an integral part of their squad for the 2002 tournament, held for the first time in Asia in Korea and Japan that year.

And he wrote his name into our record books at the event, as he made his appearance as an 84th-minute substitute in the Final that Germany lost 2-0 to a Ronaldo-inspired Brazil.

Ziege joined us from Liverpool in June, 2001, and featured 34 times for us in his debut season. He scored goals too, netting seven times that term including a diving header to put us 3-0 up at home to Manchester United – in a game we lost 5-3 – and also scored in our League Cup Final defeat to Blackburn Rovers at the Millennium Stadium, so he was in good form going into the World Cup with his country.

Germany had lost 5-1 at home to England during the qualifying campaign and few gave them much of a chance of progressing to the latter stages of the Finals, but they proved once again that when it comes to the big stage, they are always a team to be feared.

Ziege started all three of Germany’s group games as they successfully emerged from Group E, featuring in the 8-0 win over Saudi Arabia, the 1-1 draw with Republic of Ireland – in which a certain Robbie Keane snatched a 92nd minute equaliser – and a 2-0 victory against Cameroon. But a yellow card picked up against the Africans, one of 12 awarded in the match, meant Ziege was suspended for the second round match with Paraguay, having already been booked against Saudi Arabia.

Germany progressed with a 1-0 win over Paraguay, and Ziege was recalled straight back into the starting line-up for the quarter-final against the USA, in which Michael Ballack scored the only goal of the game. But Germany coach Rudi Voller reshuffled his side for the semi-final against hosts South Korea in Seoul, with Christian among those missing out, and again Ballack was the match-winner.

Brazil, conquerors of England in the quarter-finals, were the only thing that stood between Germany and a fourth World Cup success, but Ziege was again only on the bench. By the time he emerged into the fray with six minutes left, Ronaldo had struck twice for the Brazilians and Christian was unable to change the course of the contest.

Below: Teddy celebrates victory over Argentina with David Beckham


Teddy Sheringham - Spurs 1992-1997, 2001-2003, 277 appearances, 124 goals

Teddy Sheringham was enjoying his first spell at the Lane when he won his first England cap and was back here again when the curtain came down on his England career nine years later.

The striker made his international debut in Chorzow in May, 1993, as England drew 1-1 against Poland in a qualifying match for the 1994 World Cup, a campaign which was ultimately unsuccessful for the Three Lions as they failed to qualify under Graham Taylor.

Four years later at France, 1998, Spurs legend Glenn Hoddle had steered England to the final stages and had included Sheringham in his squad, but by this stage Teddy was wearing the colours of Manchester United. He did appear twice – against Tunisia and Romania, however it wasn’t until the 2002 tournament that he featured in a World Cup game as a Spur.

Having played in three qualifying games en route to Japan/South Korea – including scoring a crucial equaliser seconds after coming on as a substitute in England’s final qualifier against Greece at Old Trafford - Teddy became our oldest outfield player to ever feature in a World Cup at the age of 36.

He appeared in four of England’s five games – all as a substitute. Manager Sven Goran Eriksson didn’t call on his services for their first group game, the 1-1 draw with Sweden, but Sheringham’s vast experience and know-how was certainly useful in the vital showdown with old foes Argentina in Sapporo.

After David Beckham’s 44th-minute penalty had given England the lead, Sheringham was introduced at the expense of Emile Heskey nine minutes into the second half and played a key role in keeping possession and frustrating the Argentines as the Three Lions held out for a 1-0 victory.

Sheringham then played the final 21 minutes of England’s next two matches, a goalless draw against Nigeria in Osaka to book their place in the second round, and the 3-0 defeat of Denmark to reach the quarter-finals, both times replacing Heskey.

But Teddy’s international career, which peaked at Euro 96 when he starred alongside Alan Shearer in attack as England reached the semi-finals, was brought to an end by Brazil in Shizuoka in what was to be his 50th and final cap.

He featured for the last 10 minutes, coming on for Ashley Cole as England – 2-1 down having gone ahead early on through Michael Owen – desperately searched for an equaliser. It wasn’t to be though as the Three Lions tumbled out and Sheringham’s England career, in which he’d scored 11 times, ended in disappointing fashion.

Below: Milenko celebrates his goal against Paraguay


Milenko Acimovic - Spurs 2002-2003, 18 appearances

Midfielder Milenko Acimovic was a Spurs player by name but had yet to pull on the famous Lilywhite shirt when he appeared at the 2002 World Cup with Slovenia.

He joined us from Red Star Belgrade in May that year, just a few weeks before the tournament and had to wait until the following season, 2002-03, before making his Spurs debut in our opening game against Everton, replacing Steffen Iversen as a substitute in our 2-2 draw at Goodison.

Acimovic made his Slovenian debut in April, 1998, in a friendly against Czech Republic, and became a regular on the international scene. He helped them to reach their first ever tournament when they qualified for Euro 2000, featuring in all three games as they exited at the group stage.

Two years later, Slovenia caused a major upset by reaching the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, and Milenko played in nine qualifying matches as they finished second in their group, before beating Romania in the play-offs.

They headed to the Far East hoping to continue to surprise people and having been drawn in a group containing Spain, South Africa and Paraguay, a second round berth appeared within their grasp.

But it wasn’t to be. Novices on the world stage, Slovenia failed to reproduce their qualifying form in the Finals and tumbled out, bottom of the group with three straight defeats.

Acimovic started on the bench in their opener against Spain, coming on in the 63rd minute but unable to prevent the Spanish winning 3-1, but he was in the starting line-up for the next two.

A 1-0 defeat to South Africa ended Slovenia’s interest in the tournament after their second game, but Milenko’s own personal highlight came in the final match against Paraguay, when he opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time. Slovenia were still leading 1-0 when he was substituted with 28 minutes remaining, only for the South Americans to score three times to steal the points.

Acimovic remains one of only two players to have ever scored for Slovenia at a World Cup and stands third in the all-time appearance list for his country, with 74 caps. Milenko retired through injury during his time at Austria Vienna in September, 2010.