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June 6, 2006   

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The Mighty Dozen

The football World Cup has made legends out of nobodies, reduced stars to ordinary players and graced some with immortality.

Who will survive the big test in Germany?

A look at 12 players who, we think, could leave their mark on the greatest sporting show on earth by their brilliance and guide their teams to glory.

Ronaldinho

The Brazilian superstar burst on to the international scene in a 1999 Copa America game against Venezuela when he scored a goal reminiscent of Pele's 1958 famous World Cup final effort.

Two minutes after coming on as a substitute in his second international appearance, the 19 year old flicked the ball over a defender, swept past another and fired the ball into the goal between Venezuela goalkeeper Renny Vega and the near post.

Brazil knew they had unearthed another diamond.

Seven years on, Ronaldinho is widely acclaimed as the world's best. No other player has such a wide range of tricks at his disposal and no other player seems to enjoy himself, as illustrated by the FIFA Footballer of the year's trademark grin.

Text: Rediff Sports Bureau. Photographs: Getty Images

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