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Exequiel Palacios (c.) has followed in the footsteps of the likes of Benjamin Pavard, Gerd Müller, Andreas Möller, Lucio, Dunga and Manuel Neuer (l-r.) as a Bundesliga player to win the World Cup. - © DFL
Exequiel Palacios (c.) has followed in the footsteps of the likes of Benjamin Pavard, Gerd Müller, Andreas Möller, Lucio, Dunga and Manuel Neuer (l-r.) as a Bundesliga player to win the World Cup. - © DFL

A history of the Bundesliga's World Cup winners


Exequiel Palacios became the 60th Bundesliga-based player to lift the World Cup as Argentina triumphed at the 2022 finals.

bundesliga.com chronicles the illustrious list of Bundesliga representatives turned world champions...

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Champions: Argentina
Bundesliga representative: Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen)

Palacios went to the first ever winter World Cup having featured in 10 of Leverkusen's first 15 league matches of the 2022/23 campaign, during which he emerged as a regular in Xabi Alonso's midfield. The 24-year-old missed his nation's shock defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia in their Group C opener, but went on to feature in three matches from the bench as La Albiceleste lifted the famous Jules Rimet trophy for a third time in their history. Palacios' appearances came in victories over Mexico in the group stage, Australia in the round of 16 and Croatia in the semi-finals. He was an unused substitute in the final, as Argentina triumphed on penalties over a France squad that included Bayern Munich quartet Kingsley Coman, Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard and Dayot Upamecano, as well as Eintracht Frankfurt upstart Randal Kolo Muani and Borussia Mönchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram.

Russia 2018

Champions: France
Bundesliga representatives: Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)

Benjamin Pavard (l.) and Corentin Tolisso (r.) led France to World Cup glory in 2018 and later became clubmates at Bayern Munich. - IMAGO / ZUMA Press

Pavard remained on the bench for the final defeat to Argentina at the Lusail Stadium, but the now Bayern defender was far from a peripheral figure when France conquered the world four years earlier. In fact, it was his wonder strike against the Argentines in the round of 16 that not only set France on course for victory but was also awarded Goal of the Tournament. The then VfB Stuttgart man may have gone to the 2018 World Cup with just six caps under his belt but went on to last the distance in six of his country's seven matches, including the 4-2 victory over Croatia in the final. Pavard's future Bayern teammate Corentin Tolisso also featured five times for Les Blues in Russia, making two starts and teeing up Antoine Griezmann for the second in the 2-0 win over Uruguay in the quarter-finals before producing a 17-minute cameo against Croatia as France claimed World Cup glory for a second time.

Brazil 2014

Champions: Germany
Bundesliga representatives: Jerome Boateng, Mario Götze, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Erik Durm, Kevin Großkreutz, Mats Hummels, Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Julian Draxler, Benedikt Höwedes (Schalke), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Christoph Kramer (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover)

Watch: On this day: Germany win the World Cup on 13 July 2014

Germany's triumph in 2014 was very much made in the Bundesliga, with no fewer than 16 of the 23-man squad mined from clubs at the top of the country's footballing pyramid. Fresh from their domestic triumph, Bayern provided seven players in the squad, while 2013/14 Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund had four representatives, Schalke two and one apiece from Freiburg, Gladbach and Hannover. Joachim Löw's side were near perfect from start to finish, with Thomas Müller hitting a hat-trick in an eye catching 4-0 dismantling of Portugal that set the tone for the remainder of the tournament. A draw with Ghana aside, Germany won six out of seven on route to glory, including a 7-1 destruction of the much-fancied hosts in the semis; a fixture that broke Brazil hearts and is still one of the most remarkable results in World Cup history. Müller scored his fifth goal of the tournament - only future clubmate James Rodriguez (six) scored more - in the battering of Brazil, setting up a meeting with Argentina in the final. A tense affair unfolded at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium before Mario Götze, challenged by Löw to "show the world you are better than Messi", popped up with a dramatic winner in extra-time that ensured Philipp Lahm became the fourth German to lift the World Cup.

Japan/South Korea 2002

Champions: Brazil
Bundesliga representative: Lucio (Bayer Leverkusen)

Lucio (r.) put the mockers on a Germany side in the 2002 World Cup final that contained the Brazil centre-back's then Bayer Leverkusen teammate Oliver Neuville (l.). - IMAGO / Agencia MexSport

A star-studded Brazil outfit went all the way in the Far East in the first World Cup of the new millennium as Messrs Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho - not to mention the likes of Roberto Carlos and Cafu - made amends for their final disappointment four years prior. With so much attacking flair in the side, Brazil required a rock-solid foundation, and they were given that by the defensive triumvirate of Edmilson, Roque Junior - who would also go on to represent Leverkusen - and Lucio, who had just finished as runner-up in the Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup. The Werkself sentry - who later lifted the Bundesliga and DFB Cup with Bayern - featured in all seven of his country's victories during the 2002 edition, keeping four clean sheets in the process. One of those was the shutout of Germany in the final, as Ronaldo struck twice to down Rudi Völler's side and claim the gold.

France 1998

Champions: France
Bundesliga representative: Bixente Lizarazu (Bayern Munich)

During a trophy-laden stint at Bayern Munich, Bixente Lizarazu (c.) brought joy to his nation when France lifted the World Cup trophy on home soil in 1998. - IMAGO / Uwe Kraft

Bixente Lizarazu became a veritable Bayern legend during a trophy-laden eight-year stint at the club. He was a six-time Bundesliga winner at the club, where he lifted the Champions League in 2001, as well as a further five DFB Cups and an Intercontinental Cup. He also etched his name in his country's history books as France became world champions in front of their own fans in 1998. The Bayern defender scored one and set up another in the 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the group stage and went the distance in all but one of France's games as he sat out the 2-1 victory against Denmark with qualification to the knockouts already wrapped up. Lizarazu did miss a penalty in the quarter-final shootout against Italy, but his team still prevailed and the left-back played a crucial role in the final as France earned a 3-0 win over tournament favourites Brazil.

USA 1994

Champions: Brazil
Bundesliga representatives: Dunga (VfB Stuttgart), Paulo Sergio (Bayer Leverkusen), Jorginho (Bayern Munich)

Dunga (c.) signed with VfB Stuttgart a year prior to leading his country to World Cup glory at USA 1994. - IMAGO / Allstar

Brazil legend Dunga rocked up in the Bundesliga ahead of the 1993/94 season, scoring four times and providing a further four assists in 28 appearances as VfB finished seventh in his first year in Germany. It proved perfect preparation for the Brazil skipper to lead his country at the 1994 World Cup in the USA. There, Brazil danced their way to the title, with Romario and Bebeto dazzling in attack and Dunga dictating the tempo of his team from midfield. In a now iconic penalty shootout in the final, Dunga converted from 12 yards immediately before Roberto Baggio infamously sent the ball soaring over the crossbar with his own spot-kick. In contrast to Baggio's heartbreak, jubilant scenes unfolded among the Brazil camp before Dunga raised the World Cup aloft at Pasadena's Rose Bowl Stadium. Among his teammates that day were Bayern right-back Jorginho, who was forced off injured after 21 minutes. Leverkusen's Paulo Sergio - later made a Bundesliga Legend after also having a spell in Munich - didn't feature in the final but did make two appearances in the group stage.

Italy 1990

Champions: West Germany
Bundesliga representatives: Klaus Augenthaler, Raimond Aumann, Jürgen Kohler, Hans Pflügler, Stefan Reuter, Olaf Thon (Bayern Munich), Thomas Häßler, Bodo Illgner, Pierre Littbarski, Paul Steiner (Cologne), Frank Mill, Andreas Möller (Borussia Dortmund), Günter Hermann, Karl-Heinz Riedle (Werder Bremen) Uwe Bein (Eintracht Frankfurt), Guido Buchwald (VfB Stuttgart), Andreas Köpke (Nuremberg)

Lothar Matthäus (l.) and Pierre Littbarski (r.) were once rivals as players for Bayern Munich and Cologne, respectively, but shared glory with Germany in 1990. - STAFF/AFP via Getty Images

Having won the tournament as a player in 1974 (more on that to come), Franz Beckenbauer became the first person in history to win the World Cup as a coach at Italia 90. A total of seven Bundesliga clubs provided 17 of Beckenbauer's 22-man squad, with Bayern (six) supplying the most players and Cologne (four) coming in just behind - as they had done in the league that season, with the Billy Goats finishing second to the champions from Bavaria. The tournament is well remembered for the West Germans' defeat of England in the semi-finals, in which Karl-Heinz Riedle and then Olaf Thon scored the decisive third and fourth penalties that clinched shootout glory and a spot in the final. There, another penalty from one-time Bayern man Andreas Brehme sealed victory over Argentina.

West Germany 1974

Champions: West Germany
Bundesliga representatives: Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner, Uli Hoeneß, Jupp Kapellmann, Sepp Maier, Gerd Müller, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck (Bayern Munich), Rainer Bonhof, Jupp Heynckes, Wolfgang Kleff, Berti Vogts, Herbert Wimmer (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Bernhard Cullmann, Heinz Flohe, Wolfgang Overath (Cologne), Jürgen Grabowski, Bernd Hölzenbein (Eintracht Frankfurt), Helmut Kremers, Norbert Nigbur (Schalke), Dieter Herzog (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Horst-Dieter Höttges (Werder Bremen)

Franz Beckenbauer (c.) led Germany to World Cup glory in 1974, just 11 years on from the foundation of the Bundesliga. - Photo by STF/AFP via Getty Images

West Germany became World Cup winners for the first time in their history in 1954, a success that predated the founding of the Bundesliga nine years later. A decade on, the league helped deliver a second triumph as Beckenbauer skippered Helmut Schön's team to victory on home soil. Former Gladbach midfielder Günter Netzer was the sole player in Schön's squad that played outside of the Bundesliga, having moved to Real Madrid in 1973, and it was the two domestic heavyweights of the time, Bayern and Gladbach, who boasted the most players in the team. Beckenbauer headlined a star-studded Bayern contingent that also contained the likes of Paul Breitner, Uli Hoeneß and Gerd Müller, while the Foals - who had just pulled up a point behind champions Bayern in the league - were well represented in the form of Jupp Heynckes & Co. Müller top scored for Germany with four strikes across the tournament, with the legendary goal-getter on target alongside Breitner in the 2-1 win over a Netherlands outfit crafted in the mould of Total Football by one Johan Cruyff. It was an era-defining win for the Germans.