As football supporters, we are regularly treated to the pleasures of watching the biggest stars in world football go head-to-head on the grandest of platforms. 


It is always a bitter pill to swallow then, when one of football's elite misses out on featuring in the elite contests - purely because he was born in the wrong country. 


George Best, one of the greatest players to grace our pitches, never featured in a European competition. Nor did fellow Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs. A real shame. 

Ryan Giggs

It's very easy to look back and shake our heads at what might have been for some of the brilliant footballers who were born on our isles, but we are not alone in harbouring this lingering nostalgia.


Many countries have produced true football legends, who were unable to inspire those lesser talented around them to gain European qualification


One of the very best - and most unfortunate - was Polish superstar Zbigniew Boniek. 

Boniek was a versatile forward, who was able to play on the right of midfield, or anywhere across the forward line. The Polish forward burst onto the scene during the 1978 World Cup, scoring a brace against Mexico to help his side qualify through the initial group stages. 


It was the quality of his goals which really thrust his name into the limelight, as he fired in an absolute screamer from 30 yards out, and then punched the air in one of the most laid-back celebrations you are likely to see. 


Four years later, and Boniek was strutting his stuff at the 1982 World Cup, where he scored four goals and helped Poland to reach the semi-final of the competition. Having reaffirmed his indisputable ability on the biggest stage of all, the forward subsequently earned himself a move to Italian giants ​Juventus


The forward would go on to become a legend for I Bianconeri, winning the Scudetto in 1984, and the European Cup in 1985. His stunning displays in Europe really embedded him into Juventus folklore, and he was knighted 'Bello di notte' (Beauty at night) by the club's president, due to his incredible displays under the lights. 


Boniek was so graceful in possession, and he was known for his incredible dribbling skills and ability to round off counterattacks with lightning pace. The Polish star also had a superb eye for goal, and he was clinical with both feet when one-on-one with the goalkeeper. 

A breathtaking, insanely-gifted attacking player with an iconic moustache - Boniek had it all. 


Unfortunately for him (and Poland - and the rest of the world) we were never able to watch the maverick in action on the international European stage. Despite Poland's impressive record in World Cup competitions during the Boniek era, they failed to reach a UEFA European championship in that time, and the spotlight never shone on a very special player. 


The one that got away.