Hyderabad FC's Bartholomew Ogbeche among three last-standing players from FIFA World Cup 2002
Gianluigi Buffon, Roque Santa Cruz, and Bartholomew Ogbeche remain the only active players from the 2002 World Cup after Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his retirement.
Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic hung his boots to draw the curtains on what was an illustrious career, including a myriad of trophies, playing for many clubs, scoring unbelievable goals, and saying the most cocky things. The 41-year-old announced his retirement on June 5 after AC Milan's final league game of the 2022-23 season at the San Siro.
Ibrahimovic made his club debut with Swedish club Malmo FF, and international debut with Sweden at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. At the World Cup, the then-young Zlatan featured in two games, once against Argentina and the other against Senegal.
Interestingly, with Zlatan calling time on his career, there now remains only three players from the Japan and South Korea World Cup who are actively playing football in a professional capacity. These names include Italy's Gianluigi Buffon, Paraguay's Roque Santa Cruz, and Nigeria's Bartholomew Ogbeche.
While Buffon continues making those effortless saves with Parma in Serie B and Cruz keeps being a menace for opposition defenders with Libertad in Primera Division, Ogbeche is wowing India every season with Hyderabad FC.
The 38-year-old forward currently boasts of being the Indian Super League's highest goal-scorer in its history with 63 goals, seven more than the Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri who's playing second fiddle to the Nigerian with 56 goals.
At the 2002 World Cup, Ogbeche was a mere boy of 17 when he featured twice for Nigeria in the group stage matches. 21 years later, the striker, fondly known as 'Bart' in the sub-continent, has made the ISL his domain, having won the title with the Nizams back in the 2021-22 season.
In the 2022-23 ISL season, Ogbeche scored 10 times and helped Hyderabad FC reach the semi-finals, where they were ousted by eventual champions Mohun Bagan.