First Team

Only one player at two World Cups

Facts and figures on VfL players at previous tournaments.

It’s one day until the first VfL players join the action at the World Cup. Jonas Wind starts things off on Tuesday as Denmark meet Tunisia (14:00 CET), before Jakub Kaminski’s Poland play Mexico later the same day (17:00 CET). Koen Casteels and Belgium begin their campaign on Wednesday against Canada (20:00 CET). If they get minutes, the Wolves trio will become players 22, 23 and 24 to have featured at a World Cup while playing for VfL Wolfsburg. The list of their predecessors dates back to the last millennium.

More facts and figures on Wolves players at the World Cup:

  • Since VfL’s promotion to the Bundesliga, there’s only been one World Cup where the Wolves haven’t been represented: the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea.
  • Chad Deering and Claudio Reyna were the pioneers for the Green-and-Whites. On 15 June 1998, they were in the starting line-up for USA’s group match against Germany (0-2) in France. It was Deering’s only World Cup appearance.
  •  VfL traces can also be found in the 1994 tournament in America. Dorinel Munteanu, Petar Mihtarski, Stefan Effenberg and Martin Wagner all featured there, but it wasn’t until later that they wore the Wolfsburg shirt.
  • The 2010 World Cup in South Africa saw the biggest Wolves contingent. Grafite, Josue, Makoto Hasebe, Thomas Kahlenberg, Obafemi Martins, Peter Pekarik, Jonathan Santana, Karim Ziani, Diego Benaglio and Arne Friedrich racked up 29 appearances between them, although the latter only became a VfL player during the competition.
  • Aside from Friedrich, VfL have only had one other German international at a World Cup: Mike Hanke, who made one appearance in his own country in 2006. At the same tournament, VfL defender Hans Sarpei played four times for Ghana.
  • Benaglio is the only man who’s been involved at two tournaments as a VfL player. The long-time Wolves captain was eliminated with Switzerland after the group stage in South Africa, but made it to the round of 16 four years later in Brazil. His seven World Cup appearances is also the most for a Wolves player.
  • Up to now, the last VfL player to feature at a World Cup was Jakub Blaszczykowski in Russia in 2018. He played just one half for Poland, who were knocked out in the group stage.