Xavi, Puyol to Romario – Notable players who have missed out on an Olympic gold medal


Barcelona legends Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol were part of the Spanish team which won the Silver medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000…

Football in the Olympics is played as a U23 competition, a rule that has been in place since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

A primary reason why the football competition, which started at the 1900 Olympics, was converted into a U23 affair was to avoid competition with the World Cup which is the biggest tournament in football.

Several top players have played at the Olympics in the early part of their careers. While players like Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Pep Guardiola and Samuel Eto’o have won gold medals representing their country at the Olympics, quite a few notable players like Romario, Hernan Crespo, Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol have missed out on the gold by a whisker.

All these players came very close to win the highest prize but their teams lost in the final and they had to settle for a silver medal. Brazil finished second in back to back Olympics in 1984 and 1988 which meant that players like Dunga (1984), Romario and Bebeto (1988) who went on to become legends in their own right, could not win the Olympic gold medal. 


In Sydney 2000 Games, Spain missed a golden opportunity to win their second gold medal after 1992 as they lost the final to Samuel Eto’o’s Cameroon. The forward was up against his future Barcelona teammates Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez in the final.

In London 2012, a star-studded Brazilian side comprised of players like Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Oscar lost to Mexico in the final and had to settle for a silver medal.

Let us take a look at some of the notable football players who have missed out on an Olympic gold medal by a whisker in the past.

Which notable football players have missed out on an Olympic gold medal?

Player Country Year
Grzegorz Lato Poland 1976
Dunga Brazil 1984
Claudio Taffarel Brazil 1988
Romario Brazil 1988
Bebeto Brazil 1988
Javier Zanetti Cameroon 1996
Diego Simeone Argentina 1996
Hernan Crespo Argentina 1996
Xavi Hernandez Spain 2000
Carles Puyol Spain 2000
Thiago Silva Brazil 2012
Oscar Brazil 2012
Marcelo Brazil 2012
Alexandre Pato Brazil 2012
Hulk Brazil 2012
Lucas Moura Brazil 2012
Serge Gnabry Germany 2016
Julian Brandt Germany 2016
Matthias Ginter Germany 2016
Leon Goretzka Germany 2016


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