There is no bigger honour in any sport than being crowned a champion, it is why people work so hard to get to that point.
Sure claiming a Brownlow or a Dally M is a great achievement as well, but at the end of the day, every player wants to win that final game of the season.
Unfortunately for some, luck is not on their side and they are forced to miss out on that special occasion, whether it is through injury or suspension.
The club career of Johnathon Thurston will be headlined by his Grand Final day stories, as a teenager, he was able to play in the Bulldogs 2004 triumph after an injury to captain Steve Price.
This year his effort to take part in Origin Game 2 and the brutal hits absorbed in that game meant that the Cowboys are in the decider without their captain and best player.
He will not be the first player in this position but there are other players that have missed out much closer to the actual day.
Steve Price – Missed 2004 NRL Grand Final through injury
An injury suffered early in the Preliminary Final meant that Price would not be able to captain the Bulldogs into their 2004 NRL Grand Final against the Storm.
The media frenzy was so focused on Price that it helped shield the young replacement Johnathon Thurston who had only featured in seven matches that year.
While they tried their best to sell the possibility that Price could recover in time for the game, he was never a chance but the Bulldogs united and sprung an upset over the Roosters who were in their fourth decider in five seasons.
Cam Smith – Missed 2008 NRL Grand Final through suspension
Melbourne Storm’s defensive strategy has long been a point of contention among NRL fans.
In 2008, their skipper Smith was suspended for the Preliminary and Grand Final for a grapple tackle in their semi-final win over the Brisbane Broncos.
The Storm handled the Preliminary Final without much drama but a week later, the rampant Sea Eagles destroyed them in the Grand Final 40-0.
Jason Cloke – Missed 2002 AFL Grand Final through suspension
Travis Cloke’s brother had his rookie season end on a massively sour note as he was suspended for the Magpies Grand Final against the Lions.
In a heated preliminary final against Adelaide he was found guilty of striking Tyson Edwards and was given a two match ban for that offence.
How much of a difference he would have made in that game is uncertain but all that will be remembered is he did not play and the Lions wound up winning the game.
Anthony Rocca – Missed 2003 AFL Grand Final through suspension
For the second year in a row, a Collingwood player decided that striking an opponent in a preliminary final was a good idea.
This time star forward Anthony Rocca decided to take a swing at a Port Adelaide player and wound up missing the Grand Final.
It might have been a good thing for his manager negotiating a new deal however as Collingwood were defeated by the Lions by a lot more than when he played a year before.
Chad Lewis – Missed Super Bowl XXXIX through injury
One of the ultimate hard luck stories in the NFL, Chad Lewis was a part of the Philadelphia Eagles team that lost in the NFC Championship game three years in a row.
In their fourth attempt the Eagles finally broke through and defeated the Atlanta Falcons to make the Super Bowl for the first time since 1980.
Lewis had the honour of catching the game clinching touchdown pass however in the process he suffered a foot injury which ruled him out of the Super Bowl.
The Eagles could not finish the job in the Super Bowl losing to the New England Patriots 24-21 but Lewis did get to play in a Super Bowl in 1999 with the St Louis Rams.
Desmond Trufant and Adrian Clayborn – Missed Super Bowl LI through injury
The Atlanta Falcons defence was overshadowed during their Super Bowl run in 2016 but they suffered two big blows as the season wore on.
Leading cornerback Desmond Trufant suffered a season ending shoulder injury in November which ruled him out however the Falcons were able to offset that loss for most of the year.
What did have a major impact in the Super Bowl was pass rushing specialist Adrian Clayborn who injured his shoulder in the NFC Championship.
Losing Clayborn meant that the Falcons were one lineman short in the Super Bowl and with the team having to play over 90 defensive snaps, they were exhausted by the end as Tom Brady mounted the historic comeback.
John Aloisi – Missed 2010 A-League Grand Final through injury
The man responsible for one of the most famous kicks in Australian sport managed to claim the double in his final season with Sydney FC.
The striker played a crucial role in getting the Sky Blues to the big game, scoring a then club record ten goals in the 2009-2010 season including the one which sealed the Premiership.
Unfortunately a torn hamstring ruled him out five days before the game meaning his side had to defeat Melbourne Victory without their most potent attacker.
They did just that in a penalty shootout with defender Byun Sung-Hwan scoring the decisive goal.
John Terry – Missed the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final though suspension
The Champions League Final is not a day that will have many happy memories for the former Chelsea skipper.
In 2008, he had the chance to win the title with the decisive strike in a shootout against Manchester United, except he slipped and hit the post.
Moving forward four years, Terry had to miss the final against Bayern Munich through a suspension picked up in the second leg of the semi final against Barcelona.
His decision to join in Chelsea’s celebrations in full playing kit anyway still draws plenty of laughs anytime it is brought up.
As it turns out, Terry was the ringleader for a group of players suspended for that final who went full kit wanker which included Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic and Raul Meireles, but here we will just focus on John Terry because it’s the lowest hanging fruit.
Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel Paulista, Shkodran Mustafi and Kieran Gibbs – Missed 2017 FA Cup Final
Before May’s FA Cup Final against Chelsea, a defensive crisis hit Arsenal as fill in captain Laurent Koscielny was sent off in the final round of the Premier League, thus ruling him out of the Wembley clash.
In the same game, fellow defender Shkodran Mustafi picked up a concussion and was held out while Gabriel Paulista also sustained a knee injury which would rule him out of the final too.
It meant that club captain Per Mertesacker would make his first start and just his second appearance of the season in the game in a makeshift back three but Arsenal still managed to lift the cup.
Dan Carter and Colin Slade – Missed 2011 Rugby World Cup Final
The All Blacks 2011 Rugby World Cup triumph put an end to a lot of jokes about their failure to win as heavy favourites in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007.
It was set up to add another year to that list as they lost their playmaker Dan Carter during the A tournament to a groin injury before the knockout stages.
A week later, his replacement Colin Slade went out injured forcing then-untested Aaron Cruden into the limelight who couldn’t finish the final himself due to an injury.
Carter had his chance to play in a World Cup Final four years later as he helped guide the All Blacks by the Wallabies in England.