Today is Sergio Parisse's 30th birthday, and to celebrate the occasion we have looked at the sports people around the world, like the Italian, who's talents have gone unrewarded with the trophies they deserve, or have played with countries unable to match their talents and ambition.
1. Sergio Parisse (Italy & Stade Francais)
Firstly we have the man himself. The Argentinian born number 8 has been one of Europe's most consistent performers for the best part of a decade now, and is one of the Six Nations' stand out players every single year, to the point of being nominated for the IRB World Player of the Year Award in 2008.
For all the acclaim he receives, usually every spring time, Parisse only experiences victory sparingly with Italy, and other than a Top 14 Championship in 2007, his playing career has been bereft of the awards it deserves. One can sometimes get the feeling that if he were playing in a different national team, he would be a world star.
cover image: sportsfile
2. Declan Browne (Tipperary Footballer)
The Tipperary footballer is the first name from Gaelic football that comes to mind when thinking of players who deserved more from their careers.
The two time All-Star (1998 and 2003) played in only one Munster Senior Football Championship Final throughout his career, in 1998, and was voted Munster Footballer of the Year in 2003 also.
In 2007, Browne retired from inter-county football at just the age of 29. What might have been...
3. Keith Higgins (Mayo Hurler)
The Mayo forward will appear in an All-Ireland final for his county in ten days time, but had he been from Kilkenny for example, he may already have his All-Ireland winners medal, so revered are his apparent skills with the sliotar.
Higgins has not only represented Mayo in Hurling but Connacht in the Railway Cup. According to Wikipedia, Hurling is his first love and in 2005 he won a Christy Ring Cup All Star, and in 2008 the dual star was nominated for the Christy Ring Cup Player of the Year award.
Mayo footballer fans will be glad to have him, but unfortunately he'll never fulfill that dream of claiming Liam with Mayo
4. George Weah (Liberia)
The Liberian was of course, World Footballer of the Year 1995 and had an illustrious career in Europe, most publicly with Milan but also successfully with Monaco and PSG in France.
With League titles in France and Italy, as well as numerous individual accolades in the mid-nineties, one might consider him ineligible for selction here, but it his record with Liberia that is most noteworthy.
During his career. his country played in only two Nations Cups, in 1996 and 2002, but the Lone Stars failed to make it through the group stage on both occasions. Many African stars have failed to win their continental title, but none have been as hard done by as Weah.
5. Takudzwa Ngwenya (USA and Biarritz)
Ngwenya came to the world's attention in 2007 during the World Cup in France when he scored memorable tries against South Africa and Samoa for the USA Eagles. His form and pace earned him a move to Biarritz Olympique almost immediately and he has been a mainstay of the club ever since.
In the intervening six years however, the Basque club have failed to capture the Bouclier de Brennus or the Heineken Cup, despite a final appearance in 2010.
As the fastest man in rugby, which he was believed to be after his performances in the 2007 World Cup, Ngwenya's national team in the US have failed to make the most of his talents, performing poorly at the World Cup in 2011.
6. Ted Williams (Boston Red Sox)
Teddy Ballgame is one of the most fondly remembered Baseball players ever to play the game, but failed to land an elusive World Series during his career, spent entirely with the cursed Boston Red Sox.
To sum up the San Diego native in statistics He was a two-time American League MVP, six-time batting champion, 17-time All-Star, and a two-time Triple Crown winner. He finished his career with a .344 batting average, 521 home runs, and a .482 on base percentage, the highest of all time. His batting average is the highest of any MLB player with 500 or more home runs. Williams was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966 in his first year of eligiblity.
On top of all that, Williams's career suffered an enforced hiatus of four years during the second World War. He became a Captain in the military and achieved countless medals in the process before returning to the Red Sox in 1946. However, no World Series was ever won.
Despite all that, the most interesting thing about Ted Williams is actually what happened to him after his death, in 2004, as his head is kept in a cryogenic chamber.
7. Matt le Tissier
There are so many footballers to choose from. The likes of Ryan Giggs and George Best won so much at club level that really they couldn't be counted, while even George Weah only got in on account of being from a country more deprived of footballing success than most. However, Matt Le Tissier won absolutely nothing as a player and got such a paltry number of caps with England that he's hard to avoid.
Le Tiss didn't even travel very far to play the entirety of his professional club career. The Guernsey man played for Southampton on England's south coast for 16 years from 1986-2002, scoring ridiculous goals for fun throughout. He scored the last ever goal at the Dell, a last minute winner against Arsenal in 2001, and played one season at St Mary's before retiring in 2002. He also scored 47 out of 48 penalties during his career, so the bar has been set for Mario Balotelli.
Le Tissier played only eight times for England and never travelled to a major tournament, and despite winning individual awards such as player of the month and goal of the month, Southampton never won a trophy during his 16 years on the south coast, depriving him the accolades he surely could have won elsewhere.
8. Rupeni Caucaunibuca (Fiji)
The Fijian Flyer never quite fulfilled his potential. During the 2003 World Cup in Australia Caucau was unstoppable, scoring tries against France and Scotland that almost propelled the Pacific Islanders to the quarter finals.
In the years since he has popped up in France and New Zealand but never became the truly international star that he could have. A combination of things such as weight issues and laziness meant he has always appeared only in flashes. Many internationals have spoken openly of his talent and his ability to win a game on his own, but one feels we never saw the best of him.
If the Fijian was from a top tier rugby nation, one would think his tendency to drift out of the game, literally, would not have been allowed to happen so easily.
9. Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins)
One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play American Football, Dan Marino is a legend and revered figure not just in the city of Miami but throughout the US.
The Pennsylvania native holds or has held almost every QB record in the book from his 17 year spell with the Dolphins from 1983 to 1999. He led his team to the playoffs ten times during that period but never won a Super Bowl ring., reaching the big game only once in the 1984 season.
10. Steve Nash (Assorted)
Being Canadian is not usually helpful in becoming a famous, outstanding sports person outside a hockey rink, but Steve Nash achieved that in the NBA of all places.
The little guy from Vancouver Island has been a stalwart of the league since 1996, and a two time regular season MVP in 2005 and 2006, but his post season record is not what it could have been due to the teams he has played with.
The Johannesburg born point guard first joined Phoenix in '96, joined the Mavericks in Dallas in '98 before returning to the Suns in 2004, where he stayed until 2012 when Nash joined the Lakers in LA. Despite that illustrious career, he has yet to even play in an NBA Finals. Moving to LA at the same time as Dwight Howard brought high expectations but after too seasons with the Lakers they have been a disappointment.
11. Roy Keane (Ireland)
And finally we have Keano. After all those years of unprofessionalism, surely he would have dragged his country single handedly to a World Cup Final in 2002.
If you have any further suggestions feel free to let us know.