8 players who performed better for their country than club – from Pogba to Xhaka

Footballers may earn their keep from their club careers, but pulling on the shirt of their nation is the proudest moment of their life.

The chance to represent the whole of their country is one that cannot be compared to the week-in, week-out routine of the domestic game.

And sometimes that feeling can be so strong that the player takes their game up a notch, putting in performances that usually they would not, much to the frustration of their club's fans.

Several top stars have performed better for their country than they do their club. Daily Star Sport are taking a look at eight such examples.

Lukas Podolski

It might come as a surprise to some that former Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski is still playing professionally in his country of birth, Poland.

It was Germany whom he represented on the international stage, with 130 appearances and 49 goals, the last of which came in his final match, a 2017 friendly against England.

Apart from for his beloved FC Koln, Podolski struggled to fire on a consistent basis for the Gunners (31 in 82) and especially Bayern Munich (26 in 106).


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Paulinho had never played outside of South America when he joined Tottenham in 2013, and his inexperience was clear to see.

It seems he was much more suited to Brazil's way of football, as when he linked up for international duty, he was a different beast.

The midfielder helped them to Confederations Cup glory in 2013 and then returned from a two-year snubbing to rack up 56 caps and 13 goals, the highlight of which being a hat-trick against Uruguay.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba's second spell with Manchester United has managed to steadily decline into an utter mess over the past few years.

But with France, it's been a very different story for the 28-year-old.

While his United performances have been very hit-and-miss, Pogba has been a vital component of his nation's side in international outings.

Winning the 2018 World Cup will forever be the greatest achievement of his career, and United haven't won a trophy with him since a year before that.

Sergio Romero

It's quite the task to compare Sergio Romero's club career to his international one, because he's barely had one.

Since the 2012/13 season, he's played more than 1,000 minutes of football in a season just once, which was with the Red Devils in 2016/17.

Despite his lack of club action, the goalkeeper held down the No1 shirt for Argentina for the best part of a decade and fell just four caps short of the 100 mark for his country.

Miroslav Klose

You'd be forgiven for thinking Miroslav Klose only existed when Germany had games because his club career paled in comparison.

In fairness, breaking the record for the most goals scored at World Cups is one of the most impressive feats in football history.

The 16 he bagged across the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 tournaments formed part of the 71 goals he netted at a ratio of better than a goal every other game in 137 (yes, 137) caps.

He fired at a far slower rate for Bayern and then Lazio.

Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka has been a source of frustration for Arsenal fans since he joined the club in 2016.

His Gunners career reached an all-time low when he was loudly booed off the Emirates pitch during a substitution last season.

That's something which would never happen for his nation, Switzerland.

He captained them to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals, has made 98 appearances, and is just one goal short of matching his Gunners tally.

Fabio Grosso

It's hard to make yourself a fan favourite as a left-back, but Fabio Grosso will forever be in Italian hearts for his 2006 World Cup performances.

He was the surprise scorer of a last-gasp extra-time winner against Germany in the semi-final, and also converted his penalty in the successful final shoot-out with France.

His club career was anything but impressive, though. Inter Milan ended his time with them after just one season, which just about sums it up.

Asamoah Gyan

No player has ever upped their game for their country as much as Asamoah Gyan did for Ghana.

Sunderland, who signed him for more than £14m after the 2010 World Cup, could only have dreamt of getting the Gyan who turned up on the international stage.

He scored against both Germany and Portugal in major tournaments, goals which were a part of 51 finishes in 107 games.

But his penalty miss against Uruguay after Luis Suarez's infamous handball will forever haunt his career.

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