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English clubs’ finalists aim to join exclusive World Cup winners' club

Whatever the outcome on Sunday evening in Soccer City, history will be created.

With neither Spain nor the Netherlands having won the World Cup, one or other of the pair will break their duck.

Another ‘first’ is that this will be the first time Europeans have won a World Cup not played in Europe.

And in theory there are eight players who can join an exclusive three-man club this weekend.

Other than Alf Ramsey’s heroes of 1966, the only players who have been World Cup-winning finalists while they were with English clubs are a trio of Frenchmen.

Chelsea’s Frank Lebouef and Arsenal pair Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira were members of France’s 1998 side which beat Brazil 3-0 in the Final.

The Dutch have five players – realistically four – who will be hoping to join those Frenchmen – Everton’s John Heitinga, Manchester City’s Nigel de Jong, Arsenal’s Robin van Persie and Liverpool duo Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel.

Babel has not been involved thus far and there is little reason to suspect that Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk will change a system that has taken him and his players to the brink of world football’s ultimate prize.

Spain boast three English-based players, though it is possible that none of them will be included in Sunday’s starting line-up.

Liverpool’s Pepe Reina is there as a support act to first-choice goalkeeper to Iker Casillas, the Spaniards’ captain. And like his Anfield colleague Babel, Reina has not seen action.

The Merseysiders’ other representative is patently unfit Fernando Torres, who, following a totally ineffective campaign, was relegated to the bench for Wednesday night’s semi-final against Germany, finally entering the fray in the 81st minute.

His replacement, Barcelona’s Pedro, had an excellent match and may well have persuaded manager Vicente Del Bosque to retain him.

Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas is likely to feature at some stage, having been introduced as a sub throughout the tournament.

Belfast Telegraph