Here are 10 players that may provide some compelling stories during and after the upcoming World Cup
Last spring "Marvelous" Marvin rejected medical advice and chose not to have his injured right knee operated on. Rather, he opted for the power of prayer and in the process he has astounded the medical establishment. The powerfully built defender had moved from his native Trinidad in 1997 to join Scottish club Raith Rovers.
He then moved to Livingstone and turned down a move to Dundee United saying that God had told him that it was not the right move. In 2004 he joined Glasgow Rangers but before his first season was up he suffered a serious injury to the cruciate ligament in one of his knees.
Putting his trust in a greater power Andrews was back playing before the end of the season and he continues to be an important part of the Rangers defense. When he isn't stopping the opposition he spends much of his time as a preacher at a church in Kirkcaldy, Scotland.
In the history of world soccer, a select few names will stand the eternal test of time — Pele, Maradona, and Beckenbauer come to mind, but a new phenom from Brazil is giving the legends a run for their money. His name is Ronaldinho.
The dentally-challenged Brazilian superstar has already won a World Cup in 2002, and then added the world's most prestigious club title to his resume this month by winning the European Champions League with FC Barcelona at the Stade de France in Paris. His mastery of the ball at pace or simply standing still is awe inspiring, and there's not a single move he makes without an enormous grin on his face, as if he's in on the biggest secret in the world and no one else knows a thing about it.
lthough his wizardry with the leather is known the world over, the line was drawn when it was verified (by Ronaldinho himself) that a video stunt of the midfield maestro repeatedly passing a ball off a crossbar back to himself without it ever touching the ground was nothing more than a cleverly staged trick.
But few doubt that he won't provide some magic in Germany.
The Swedish forward will never be considered a shrinking violet. He has been described as egotistical and arrogant with a hair-trigger temper — and these are some of his good qualities!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays with the ball before a friendly match against Finland
After a tough match against England in 2004, a reporter asked him, "You have some scars on your face there — what happened?"
"Well, I don't know. You'll have to ask your wife about that," Ibrahimovic responded.
The tall striker with the light touch took Italy's Serie A by storm after he arrived from Ajax in the late summer of 2004 after a series of impressive performances at Euro 2004. He scored 16 goals in his first season but the just completed campaign has seen his form dip and his scoring rate drop off. For Sweden to prosper at the tournament Ibrahimovic has to step up.
Toni is a consummate late bloomer. During a career in Italy that has seen the 6-foot-4 Toni play for nine different clubs, it is only in the last three seasons that his goal-scoring exploits have singled him out as one of most dangerous strikers in Europe.
Luca Toni's movie star good looks should make him a fan favorite in Germany
Over his first nine seasons he managed just 64 goals in league play; in the last three seasons with Palermo and Fiorentina he has scored over 80 goals. This past season he became the first player to score more than 30 goals in Serie A since 1958-59 and finished as the winner of Europe's Golden Shoe.
With his movie-star looks he could become one of the most photographed players of the tournament and a reason why wives and girlfriends may take a sudden interest in when Italy play's next.
Team USA's 24-year-old defender earns his living playing for Standard Liege in the Belgian league. After progressing through various U.S. age-group teams he first moved to France four years ago before settling in Belgium. He made his full international debut against Panama in the fall of 2004.
At 6-foot-4 he is hard to miss on the field and has become a firm favorite with American fans. If the USA is to progress to the knockout stage at this World Cup then the charismatic "Gooch" is likely to play a big part — literally and figuratively.
Arguably the most recognized footballer in the world, the devilishly handsome Beckham, who made his name with Manchester United in the English Premier League, is as famous for his exploits off the field as his performances on it.
Never one to shy away from an opportunity to increase his own brand or start a new trend in hairstyles, Beckham is a P.R. dream for any company or agency fortunate enough to have the cash to splash for his endorsement services.
When Beckham moved with Spice Girl wife Victoria to Spain in 2003 after signing for powerhouse club Real Madrid, the first-day sales of Beckham jerseys came out to nearly $1 million dollars, before he ever kicked a single ball.
The birth certificate says that he is 29 but his body would disagree. Ronaldo was part of the 1994 World Cup-winning Brazil squad but he was taken to the USA mainly to gain experience. At the next tournament four years later he arrived as the best player in the world but left with a mysterious seizure just hours before the final. It's something that has yet to be fully explained.
A series of injuries put his career into doubt let alone an appearance at World Cup 2002. Brazil — and Ronaldo — arrived with few people picking them to do well after a largely lack luster qualifying campaign. They left as the winners and the best team in the tournament by a country mile. In the process Ronaldo reestablished himself as one of the world's top players by winning the Golden Shoe after scoring eight times including a final game double against Germany.
A transfer from Inter Milan to Real Madrid followed and although club success has largely eluded him over the last three seasons Ronaldo retains a talisman-type quality for the national team.
Didier Drogba signs autographs for fans
The former midfield player converted to striker moved from Marseilles to Chelsea for $42M in the summer of 2004. Although his performances for Chelsea have failed to substantiate the transfer fee Drogba's performances for the Ivory Coast rank him as one of the most dangerous forwards in Germany this summer. His value to the "Elephants" is almost immeasurable both as a goal scorer — nine in World Cup qualifying — and as a leader. Back in the Ivory Coast a particularly strong one-liter beer is known as a Drogba and this summer he will be featured in an advertising campaign throughout Europe that promotes the use of cocoa produced in the African nation.
One of Costa Rica's greatest soccer exports Wanchope can look like one of the world's great players one moment and the next look like an absolute beginner.
He is still remembered for a spectacular solo goal that he scored on his debut for Derby County against Manchester United in 1997. After a spell at Derby he moved on to West Ham United and Manchester City. Two years ago he was transferred from City to Malaga of the Spanish league.
He has represented Costa Rica over 60 times and is Costa Rica's career goal-scoring leader. Even though he has bounced from club to club Wanchope is not yet 30 years-old and he has the ability to breakdown even the most organized of defenses with a style that is often awkward looking but one that can be extremely effective.
The lion is the latest in a line of World Cup mascots that started in England in 1966 with "World Cup Willie".
Unfortunately, the 2006 mascot that was designed by the Jim Henson Company has so far proved to be a bit of a bust, particularly for a German toy company called Nici. The company supposedly paid out the equivalent of the price of a world-class striker for the right to manufacture a number of "Goleo" toys in Europe.
Sales have been disappointing and the company was forced to file for protection from creditors just a few weeks ago.