Wigan Athletic supporters will have more than a passing interest in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup Finals, because as well as following the fortunes of our current players, there are a number of familiar faces in the tournament.
LEIGHTON BAINES, ENGLAND
Top of the old boys bill is undoubtedly Leighton Baines, who will hopefully take his place in England’s starting line-up against Italy. We have already celebrated his achievement in being the first former Latics Youth Team player to grace the World Cup, a terrific achievement and our best wishes go out to him.
You can read our special feature on Bainsey, including some of his photos from the past by [clicking here]
ANTONIO VALENCIA, ECUADOR
No other Latics player has fetched more than the £15 million Manchester United paid for the Ecuadorian captain in 2009, the player FIFA recently declared to be the fastest footballer on earth.
His talents now have the chance of once again being displayed on the biggest stage of all after Paul Jewell saw the raw potential when England faced Ecuador in the 2006 tournament.
By introducing him to England, Latics played a pivotal role in turning him into the player he has developed into since.
MAYNOR FIGUEROA, HONDURAS
Already a history-maker for Latics in being the first player from the club to play in a World Cup (as opposed to being unused substitutes like Pascal Chimbonda and Josip Skoko in 2006).
The Honduras international has more reasons to be popular among the DW Stadium faithful: an FA Cup winner, scorer of ridiculously long range goals – which was better, Stoke or Forest? - the first player to appear in every match of a Premier League season and above all, a very, very good defender.
It was a sad day when we said goodbye to our Honduran oak tree this time last year but despite the club’s best efforts to keep him, Fig decided to stay in the Premier League with Hull City and he now gets the chance to appear once again in the game’s show-piece tournament.
WILSON PALACIOS, HONDURAS
It’s probably fair to say that Latics got the best out of midfield dynamo Wilson. A few Tottenham fans may argue, although it’s unlikely and Birmingham or Stoke ones certainly wouldn’t.
The Honduran was bought by Steve Bruce for less than a £1million in January 2009 – he was sold to Spurs a year later for around thirteen times that amount having had the year of his life, now that’s profit you just can't afford to turn down, no matter who you are.
He has had his fair share of injuries over the past season or so but now appears to be fit again and ready to play for his country in Brazil.
VICTOR MOSES, NIGERIA
Did he leave too soon? That’s a debate that can probably only truly be resolved a few years down the line.
For his sake, let’s hope he doesn’t turn out to be another Nathan Ellington. Latics fans will only ever have good things to say about him, though.
He arrived from Crystal Palace for £2million in January 2010, and was sold to Chelsea in the summer of 2012 for a reported £9 million, having in the interim been a real star for Latics, an exciting player capable of making a stadium get to its feet. Maybe this is the kind of stage that will be a springboard for his undoubted talents…how ironic it would be if he were to face England, for whom he played as an Under 21 of course and then opted to play for the nation of his birth.
RETO ZIEGLER, SWITZERLAND
The Switzerland left back spent half a season on loan from Tottenham in 2006, appearing in the Carling Cup final and making 10 Premiership appearances for Latics, the idea being he could force his way in to World Cup squad. The plan failed in that respect.
There was talk of his signing full time that summer but nothing came of the move and in the eight seasons since, he has played for six different clubs, Spurs then Sampdoria, Juventus and Sassuolo in Italy, Lokomotiv Moscow and Fenerbahce.
He also played in all three of Switzerland’s 2010 FIFA World Cup games – not a stranger to suitcases and aeroplanes then.