World Cup 2018: Six former Wanderers

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicking off on Thursday afternoon, has taken the opportunity to profile six former Wanderers who will be featuring at the tournament, both in a playing and managerial capacity.

Fernando Hierro – Spain

A man who will be playing a major part in this summer’s tournament having been handed the reins of the Spanish national team on the eve of the competition, Fernando Hierro certainly made a notable impact on the game as a player.

Starting his professional career with Valladolid in his native homeland in the late 1980s, the versatile figure moved to Real Madrid in 1989 and became a legend at the Bernabeu over the course of the next 14 years.

Spending a brief stint with Al Rayyan in Qatar after departing Los Blancos in 2003, he then stunned the footballing world by moving to England for the first time to sign for Wanderers.

Joining a Bolton team which featured the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and Ivan Campo amongst others, Hierro endeared himself to the club’s faithful immediately with his whole-hearted performances, despite his advancing years.

Figuring 35 times for the Trotters in all competitions, he scored a solitary goal in a 3-2 defeat to Norwich City at Carrow Road in December 2004 before hanging up his boots following the Whites’ final game of the campaign at home to Everton.

Hierro's World Cup Exploits

In terms of his efforts on the World Cup scene meanwhile, Hierro has been involved in four separate tournaments for Spain as a player.

He was a part of the squad for the 1990 competition, but didn't feature as Spain were knocked out at the round-of-16 by Yugoslavia after extra time.

In his very first World Cup in 1994, he played five games for his country, scoring once in a round-of-16 victory over Switzerland before bowing out at the quarter final stage courtesy of a 2-1 defeat to Italy.

In 1998, he played in all three of Spain’s games against Nigeria, Paraguay and Bulgaria but was unable to prevent his homeland from exiting the competition at the group stage.

And finally, in 2002, he was an ever present as Spain made it all the way to the quarter finals before being beaten by South Korea on penalties. He did however score a penalty in their 3-1 group stage victory over Paraguay.

Now back on the World Cup stage in an entirely different role meanwhile, Hierro will be hoping to make his mark this summer in only his second managerial role.

Spain's Group Stage Fixtures

  • Portugal v SPAIN - Friday 15 June 2018, KO 7pm
  • Iran v SPAIN - Wednesday 20 June 2018, KO 7pm
  • SPAIN v Morocco - Monday 25 June 2018, KO 7pm

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Gary Cahill – England

The 2018 World Cup will be Cahill’s second appearance at the tournament with him having figured for the Three Lions back in 2014.

An experienced head in the English game meanwhile, the 32-year-old began his professional career with Aston Villa in 2004 and remained at Villa Park until 2008, spending time on loan at Burnley and Sheffield United before joining Wanderers.

And with the Whites, he quickly became a fan favourite and over the course of his three-and-a-half year stay at BL6, he figured on 147 occasions, scoring 15 goals – many of which were impressive long range efforts.

Departing the club in January 2012 for Chelsea however, he has remained at Stamford Bridge ever since and is currently captain of the Blues.

Cahill's World Cup Exploits

Having made his debut for the Three Lions back in 2010, Cahill currently boasts 60 caps to his name for his homeland, including three back in the 2014 World Cup when England suffered a group stage exit.

Figuring in games against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, it was sadly a tournament to forget for the defender with him no doubt hoping for a more memorable trip this time around.

England's Group Stage Fixtures

  • Tunisia v ENGLAND - Monday 18 June 2018, KO 7pm
  • ENGLAND v Panama - Sunday 24 June 2018, KO 1pm
  • ENGLAND v Belgium - Thursday 28 June 2018, KO 7pm

Aaron Mooy – Australia

A player who was on the books of Wanderers as a youngster, Aaron Mooy never featured at first team level for the Whites but did figure at numerous youth levels.

Having plied his trade in Scotland, Australia and back in England on the domestic front since leaving BL6 in 2010 meanwhile, he has become a focal point of Huddersfield Town’s set-up in recent seasons, helping them to win promotion to the Premier League in 2016/17 before signing permanent terms with the Terriers last summer.

Mooy's World Cup Exploits

On the international stage, the Sydney-born midfielder has been figuring for his homeland since 2012 and currently boasts over 30 caps for Australia.

This will be his first appearance at a senior World Cup however, with him having only ever previously figured at the Under-20 version of the competition.

And having risen to prominence in recent seasons, Mooy will be hungry to make his mark in what will be Australia’s fifth time plying their trade in the tournament.

Australia's Group Stage Fixtures

  • France v AUSTRALIA - Saturday 16 June 2018, KO 11am
  • Denmark v AUSTRALIA - Thursday 21 June 2018, KO 1pm
  • AUSTRALIA v Peru - Tuesday 26 June 2018, KO 3pm

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Rodrigo Moreno – Spain

Brazil-born winger Rodrigo will appear at his first major tournament this summer having gone nearly three years between his first and second caps for Spain.

Having moved to Galicia in Spain in his early teens, he began his foray into the game with Real Madrid as a youngster but never made the grade at first team level for Los Blancos, eventually moving to Benfica in 2010 in search of game time.

Here, he was loaned to Wanderers for the 2010/11 campaign and made his debut in a League Cup defeat to Burnley on September 21.

His opportunities were limited with the Trotters though, with 15 of his 21 appearances coming from the substitutes’ bench. He did however score a solitary goal for Bolton against local rivals Wigan in January 2011.

Returning to his parent club that summer, he was loaned to Valencia in 2014/15 and turned that move permanent in 2015 where he has remained ever since.

Rodrigo's World Cup Exploits

Rodrigo has previously figured at the Under-20 version of the World Cup back in 2011, helping Spain to the quarter finals with three goals.

Having made his senior debut against Luxembourg in 2014, he then went almost three years without another cap for the national team before he was brought into the fold for a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Albania, earning himself a place in the squad for the finals in the process.

Spain's Group Stage Fixtures

  • Portugal v SPAIN - Friday 15 June 2018, KO 7pm
  • Iran v SPAIN - Wednesday 20 June 2018, KO 7pm
  • SPAIN v Morocco - Monday 25 June 2018, KO 7pm

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Blerim Dzemaili – Switzerland

Macedonian-born midfielder Dzemaili will be figuring at a World Cup finals for the third time this summer having turned out for the Swiss national side back in 2014 and having been an unused figure for them back in 2006.

On the domestic stage meanwhile, the 32-year-old started out with Zurich where his family had emigrated to when he was just four.

Figuring on over 100 occasions for the club between 2003 and 2007, he made the switch to England with Wanderers in 2007 but saw a cruciate knee ligament injury curtail his development in Britain and made just one senior appearance for the club against Sheffield United in January 2008.

Since leaving the Whites in 2009, he has played for Torino, Parma, Napoli, Galatasaray, Genoa, Bologna and Montreal Impact.

Dzemaili's World Cup Exploits

In his only previous World Cup appearance back in 2014, he played three games and scored one goal as Switzerland suffered a 5-2 group stage defeat against France.

He boasts over 60 caps for the Swiss national team however having been handed his debut against Scotland in a friendly fixture back in March 2006.

His efforts there earned him a place in Switzerland’s squad for the 2006 World Cup squad, but he didn’t figure in the tournament as they were knocked out at the round-of-16 stage on penalties by Ukraine.

Switzerland's Group Stage Fixtures

  • Brazil v SWITZERLAND - Sunday 17 June 2018, KO 7pm
  • Serbia v SWITZERLAND - Friday 22 June 2018, KO 7pm
  • SWITZERLAND v Costa Rica - Wednesday 27 June, KO 7pm

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Dedryck Boyata - Belgium

Defender Boyata will be appearing in his first ever senior tournament for his homeland at this summer’s World Cup finals, with his recent exploits for Scottish giants Celtic seeing him selected for the squad.

Born in Brussels in November 1990, he started out with his hometown club before moving to England with Manchester City as a teenager.

Restricted in his first team opportunities during a six-year stay at the Etihad however, he was loaned to Wanderers in 2011 and made 17 appearances during his stay with the Trotters, scoring once against Chelsea in a 5-1 defeat.

Spending a temporary spell with FC Twente the season after, he eventually departed City three summers ago and moved north of the border to Celtic Park where he has remained ever since.

Boyata's World Cup Exploits

A former Belgian Under-19 and Under-21 international, Boyata’s first senior cap arrived in October 10 against Austria with him since having accrued a total of seven caps, six of which have come in friendly fixtures.

Belgium's Group Stage Fixtures

  • BELGIUM v Panama - Monday 18 June 2018, KO 4pm
  • BELGIUM v Tunisia - Saturday 23 June 2018, KO 1pm
  • England v BELGIUM - Thursday 28 June 2018, KO 7pm

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