By Nji Nelson Chefor

Sports Writer, Cameroon.

No other player has managed to beat this peculiar feat, set by former Inter Milan legend Dejan Stankovic, who also never won a match in the knockout stages.

The midfielder played in the World Cup for the first time at France ’98, representing the unified country of Yugoslavia. That very season, at the age of 20, he left Red Star Belgrade for Lazio.

He played three group fixtures in 1998, but he was left out of the last-sixteen defeat at the hands of Holland (2-1).

Political trouble culminated in Yugoslavia’s dissolution, forming five independent nations in 2001. Stankovic, born in Belgrade, went on to be picked by Serbia and Montenegro.

He joined Inter Milan, and was selected to represent his newly-formed country at the World Cup in Germany in 2006, though the team’s performance was strikingly poor. They finished bottom of their group with no points, scoring two goals and conceding 10, against Ivory Coast, Argentina and, once again, the Dutch.

But the political and social changes did not cease and, following a referendum in which the people of Montenegro decided to separate from Serbia with a month to go for the 2010 World Cup, Stankovic was once again elegible to be selected for his third different national team.

With Serbia, he travelled to South Africa in 2010 to make history, However, despite obtaining his particular record, his side was knocked out in the group stage again. Serbia lost against Ghana (1-0) and Australia (2-1), though they surprisingly overcame Germany (1-0).

Stankovic is the only player to have played in three World Cups with three different countries, and yet, he never played a game after the group stage.


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