Following are the football teams that experienced the pain of not willing the FIFA World Cup even when they deserved the most. But what makes them remarkable is that they’re remembered for it—whether for the sentiment or the beauty or the story they wrote along the way.

Hungary: 1954 World Cup

The 1954 World Cup was the first to be broadcast on television. For much of the three weeks in June and July the world was treated to compelling football played in a gorgeous Swiss spring, but on July 4 it began to rain.
Sepp Herberger must have smiled to himself as the gales beat down on Bern.
Only 14 days prior, Herberger’s West Germany side had been demolished 8-3 by Hungary in Basel. The irrepressible Sandor Kocsis had scored four goals, and the re-match—expected to be another one-sided Hungarian victory—would determine the winner of the World Cup.

A waterlogged pitch was always going to help level the playing field, but even then the Germans would need no shortage of luck to end the spell of the Magical Magyars.
A furious start to the encounter saw four goals scored in just 18 minutes—two for each side.After Ferenc Puskas and Zoltan Czibor had given Hungary a 2-0 lead inside eight minutes, Max Morlock pulled one back for West Germany before Helmut Rahn restored level terms, turning Fritz Walter’s corner past goalkeeper Gyula Grosics.
It was the final goal until the 84th minute when Rahn, playing the game of his life, collected the ball outside Hungary’s 18-yard box following a botched clearance, dummied the on-rushing defender and hit an unstoppable, 16-yard drive that inspired one of the great play-by-play calls in football history.

Netherlands: 1974

At the 1974 World Cup, with Michels now running the national side, The Netherlands opened up their campaign with a 2-0 win over Uruguay. In the second round they defeated Argentina, Brazil and East Germany (and didn’t give up a goal), and in the final they led after just two minutes through Johan Neeskens.

But Paul Breitner equalized from the spot in the 25th minute, and shortly before the interval Gerd Muller scored what proved to be the winner at the Olympiastadion.Four years later, The Netherlands were in the World Cup final once again—and again they came up against the hosts and a highly partisan crowd. Not to mention an Argentine military dictatorship that, according to the beliefs of some, had orchestrated their country`s 6-0 win over Peru in the final match of the second round.

The two sides went into extra time level at a goal apiece, but goals from Mario Kempes and Daniel Bertoni would ensure Argentinawon its first World Cup and The Netherlands—runners-up in the previous tournament had to be satisfied with the previous result. 

Portugal: 1966

1966 was the first time Portugal qualified for the Finals and their run in the tournament was not so much about a great team, as a great player: Eusebio.

Reminiscent of Maradona some 20 years later, Eusebio single-handedly carried his country through the tournament. In the first round group stage he tore Brazil to shreds, scoring twice in a 3-1 victory which ultimately saw the defending champions – whose side included Pelé and Jairzinho – eliminated. Portugal trailed 3-0 in the quarter-final against North Korea, only for Eusebio to go on the rampage, orchestrating an astonishing comeback, scoring four times to lead his country to a fabled 5-3 win.Portugal’s dream was then destroyed in the semi-final by hosts England. While home fans rejoiced in a 2-1 victory, many shared Eusebio’s tears, sorry to see ‘The Black Pearl’ on a losing side as the sheer gusto of his play had lit up the tournament. Consolation came by way of a bronze medal after a 2-1 win against the Soviet Union in the 3rd/4th place play-off. Eusebio also won the Golden Boot after netting nine times, and the hearts of all, leading to a waxwork being created of him at Madame Tussauds.

It would have been fitting for one of the greatest strikers in the history of the game to lift the world cup but it wasn’t to be as Eusebio never took part in another Finals, the Portugal sides he later played in bowing out in the qualifying stages in both 70 and 74.

Brazil: 1982

Arguably, this was the best attacking Brazil team ever seen, even surpassing the great 1970 side. The sublime samba skills of Zico, Eder, Socrates, Junior and Falcao were stunning to behold. This was pure footballing nirvana: silky smooth passing and movement interspersed with fancy flicks, spectacular long range strikes, and perfectly executed, curling free-kicks.
Initially, Brazil looked unstoppable playing some heaven-sent football based around the beguiling ethos: you score two, we’ll score three. In the first group stage they toyed with the opposition and scored for fun, netting ten times in their games against the Soviet Union, Scotland and New Zealand. The second phase saw them drawn in the ultimate ‘Group of Death’ alongside Argentina and Italy, only the winner progressing. After a sumptuous 3-1 demolition of the defending World Cup holders, it came down to an all or nothing match up with the Italians.In a contest often cited as the greatest World Cup game ever, the Brazilians’ Achilles’ heel of lackadaisical defending was exposed by the sinnewy assassin, Paolo Rossi, whose hat-trick earned Italy a dramatic 3-2 win. The match ebbed and flowed with the boys from Brazil spurning chance after chance as they lay siege to the Italian goal.

When, finally, Falcao buried the ball past Zoff to level the match 2-2, everyone watching, bar the odd Italian, shared his euphoria as he celebrated, arms outstretched, veins bulging. A draw would have been enough to see this beautiful Brazilian team progress, but Rossi’s winner 15 minutes from time – a scrambled effort that juxtaposed so sourly set alongside the dreamy aesthetics of Brazil’s golden goals – gave the Azzuri the semi-final berth and we all wept with Rio.

Brazil: 1950

When Brazil hosted the first World Cup after twelve years in 1950, home fans had expectations of victory. The previous three World Cups had been won by Uruguay (1930) and Italy (1934, 1938). This was the only World Cup to date that didn’t have an actual ‘final’; instead a group stage was used in the final round. The winners of this group would become the World Champions. It came to the final match and Brazil only needed a draw with Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro to win the World Cup. Nobody really expected Uruguay to win, but they did, winning 2-1, and Brazil had to settle for second place.

England: 1990

Although England won the World Cup in 1966, its 1990 team was arguably better. It was a World Cup that would remain in many English memories for years to come. It was Bobby Robson’s last World Cup as England’s manager, and it proved to be talisman Gary Lineker’s final World Cup too. Peter Shilton and Bryan Robson also bowed out. After winning their group and dominating all matches, supersub David Platt scored the goal to take England into the Quarter Finals. Here, England dispatched a spirited Cameroon team with two Gary Lineker penalties, helping seal a 3-2 win. Lineker’s equaliser against the West Germans in the semi final gave the English real hope, but following a booking for Paul Gascoigne, and the subsequent ‘Gazza’s tears’ moment, the English lost on penalties and had to settle for fourth place.