Enner Valencia among five players who rose to stardom at the World Cup

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The World Cup is over and what a tournament it was. We had goals, skills, stories, controversy and a South American atmosphere to die for.

As per usual the build up was centred around the world's best and most established players - Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben - and the young up and coming stars - Memphis Depay, Bernard and Raheem Sterling.

They each dazzled on the pitch with moments of pure brilliance but this article is about five players who were previously unknown in the footballing world and went on to shine in the tournament.  

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The word unknown is very difficult to use when it comes to football players because fans from around the world follow football in different quantities. A prime example of this is James Rodriguez.

Everyone who followed football religiously or were fans of either Porto or Monaco would tell you that Rodriguez was an established star who warranted the 45 million euros transfer from the former to the latter in 2013 making him the most expensive player in Ligue 1 history.

They, unlike many others expected Rodriguez to do exactly what he did during the tournament and that is why I personally believe that he isn't an unknown player at all.

This list comprises of players who may have not been tipped to make a big impact in the tournament but ended the competition as transfer targets for many of the big clubs in Europe.

Islam Slimani

The Algerian's are not widely renowned for their footballing prowess in fact before the 2014 World Cup they hadn't scored a tournament goal in 24 years but in this tournament they had a secret weapon in the form of Slimani who did nothing but score goals.

The incredibly quick striker had earnt himself a move from CR Belouizdad in Algeria to Sporting Lisbon in 2013 after scoring 32 goals in 96 games. He was used as a secret weapon in Lisbon being brought off the bench to score late goals.

However, due to the poor form of the starting strikers he was promoted to a starter and went on to score four goals in as many games. He was the top scorer for Algeria in qualifying for the World Cup and continued to score in the tournament itself his first came against South Korea and it involved his trademark speed and a composed finish and his second was a headed effort against Russia to secure the draw that sent his side through to the knockout stages.

He was the biggest threat to the Germans in the whole of their last 16 encounter and was unfortunate to have his goal in the first half disallowed due to an offside flag. Good in the air and gifted with quick feet and transfer interest from Bayer Leverkusen, Shalke 04, Stoke City and Leicester City. Slimani may not be in Lisbon for long.

Juan Cuadrado

The Colombian's were everyones favourite World Cup team. They played without fear and their celebrations were without doubt one of the tournament highlights.

The absence of Falcao didn't seem to slow them down and the unbelievable form of their young talisman James Rodriguez certainly aided their advance through to the quarter finals where they gave Brazil a scare.

With all the headlines focused towards Rodriguez one player who slipped under the radar was the quick footed winger Cuadrado. The perfect mix of the ability to go past players with ease, a smattering of flamboyance and most importantly for a winger, the ability to whip in a pin point cross.

In case those abilities were not already leaving a host of top managers drooling already, he is also very accurate from the penalty spot.

Having spent most of his career playing as a right wing back in Serie A he wasn't a top transfer target for many clubs prior to the World Cup but since his club's departure in the quarter finals he has been attracting offers from Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona as well as many others it's unlikely he'll be staying in Italy for long.

Kenneth Omeruo

If you ask Chelsea fans who their next great defender is going to be, most will probably tell you Nathen Ake or Kurt Zouma. Not many would mention the clubs only academy defender to represent his country at the World Cup. Kenneth Omeruo.

The young Nigerian defender was the youngest member of the Nigerian back line but he was by far the most impressive. He had a sense of maturity way beyond his years and was happy to take command of a back line full of far more experienced names.

Having been loaned to Middlesborough from Chelsea last season he blossomed into a regular player of the month nominee and he did so well that Middlesborough and Chelsea have agreed to extend his loan at the Riverside for one more season.

Blessed with  pace and ability in the air Omeruo could find himself being a feature of the national side for years to come and if he can't nail down a spot in the Chelsea line up there will be a queue of managers from all over Europe seeking to bring him into their squads.

Enner Valencia

If you asked football fans who they thought was the star name in the Ecuador squad the vast majority would say Antonio Valencia. The Manchester United winger had been a consistent performer for his country over the past few seasons, however at the World Cup it was another Valencia who shone - Enner Valencia.

When it comes to unknown quantities they don't come much more unknown than a striker playing for C.F Pachuca who finished 14th in the Mexican Premier League last season.

Valencia was Pachuca's top scorer last season with 12 goals and watching him play in the World Cup it was obvious to see why. He is a fox in the box. He doesn't do anything flashy but what he does do is get on the end of balls in and put them into the back of the net.

It's easy to see why he got some comparisons to Miroslav Klose. A born and bred goalscorer. Having recently secured a transfer to West Ham he will hope to have better fortunes than the other strikers who have graced the east London club in the past few seasons. 

Guillermo Ochoa

The sad reason why most people had never heard of Ochoa prior to his unbelievable exploits during the World Cup was probably because he failed a drug test in 2011. He was cleared of any wrongdoing after it was revealed that he had eaten contaminated meat prior to a match.

However most of the big clubs in Europe didn't want anything to do with him. He was still the Mexican first choice goalkeeper and in 2011 he signed for Ajaccio who had recently been promoted to top tier of French football.

After three years in Ligue 1 Ajaccio were relegated and Ochoa announced that he was leaving the club. This wasn't massive news in the footballing world because he wasn't seen as a star player but since his heroics in the tournament he has become hot property and has an army of clubs after his signature.

He has quick reactions and experience on his side and it won't be long until we see Ochoa keeping clean sheets for a top level side.

Honourable mentions...

These five players are not the only unknown quantities who shone during the World Cup and other players stood out such as Divock Origi, Jermaine Jones and Ricardo Rodriguez but these players and the above mentioned five all come with a warning sticker.

They are all unproven at the top level. If they fail to perform in the higher echelons of world football they could become expensive mistakes, but if they can cope with the top tier then they can become a beautiful bargain. 

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