Lionel Messi could not have looked any more crestfallen as he received the Golden Ball award on Sunday night.

He had just failed to reach top form as his Argentina side were beaten in extra-time in the final of the 2014 World Cup by a slick Germany outfit.

It was supposed to be Messi’s destiny to win the tournament for his side inside the Maracana, but he could not take his chance and the pain was etched on his face as he was presented with the trophy for being voted as best player in the tournament by FIFA.

In truth, it was not just in the final that Messi didn’t reach top form as the Barcelona ace failed to score in all of the knockout rounds.

We now take a look at five of the lesser-known stars who arguably performed better than the man who won the eventual award for being the star of the tournament. Here are my top five unsung heroes...

Keylor Navas

The Costa Rican fairytale was one of the most gripping storylines created by this World Cup, as the supposed minnows progressed to the knockout stages at the expense of Italy and England, before getting all the way to the quarter-finals.

Indeed, even at that stage they could not be beaten in normal time, but a penalty shoot-out defeat to the Netherlands put them out – disappointed, but proud.

One of the major reasons for their success was the brilliance of their goalkeeper, Navas, who truly announced himself on the world stage.

The Levante' stopper had earned himself a reputation as a good 'keeper in Spain after several eye-catching displays, but he is now recognised across the globe as one of the finest players in his position and he may well move on this summer.

Hector Herrera

The Mexican midfielder was one of the stars of his nation's surprising World Cup campaign.

Many had written the Mexicans off after their disappointing qualifying campaign where they only qualified thanks to a playoff win over Panama and a draw which saw them placed into a group with Brazil and Croatia. However, they were excellent throughout and only a late onslaught from the Dutch stopped them from reaching the quarter-finals.

Herrera was a key protagonist in their progress, driving forward from midfield and providing a creative touch outside of the box.

The 24-year-old, who currently plays for Porto, looks a real talent and may well be the next star to move on from the Portuguese giants for mega-money in the future.

Ron Vlaar

The Aston Villa defender has received criticism at times for his performances in the Premier League, but he seemed to up his game exponentially when wearing his country’s colours.

A whole-hearted defender, he was his nation’s last line of defence and he performed his role to perfection. Vlaar won headers, was tough in the tackle and read the play expertly, becoming one of the Netherlands' key figures in their run to the semi-finals.

Rafael Marquez

Marquez’s achievement at this World Cup - captaining his country during four successive tournament - has not been publicised too much, but it is an incredible feat.

He led by example again in Brazil, proving to be an creative outlet for his side, despite playing in a deep position, as well as offering a goalscoring threat.

It was in his defending that he really impressed, though, and his commanding performances at centre-back were amongst the best in the tournament.

Fabian Johnson

The energetic full-back was one of the USA's stars as they progressed to the quarter-finals of the competition.

In doing so they gave eventual winners Germany a real scare and a major reason for this was Johnson’s ceaseless work-rate.

The defender, who was just signed for Borussia Monchengladbach, was one of his nation’s most notable stars and, with a long career still ahead of him, he may well become one of the crucial figures as the sport gains popularity at a rapid rate in the States.

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