The All-Time Soccer First XI

Dragging out from the Maradona thread…

OK, here’s the rules:

  1. One position, one player. The best left winger is not the best right winger; you must name one of each.

  2. For the sake of fairness and a good mix of players in all disciplines, stick to 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations. (Exceptions: you can name a sweeper or a libero)

  3. You may also name three substitutes: one striker, one midfielder and one defender.

  4. No Geoff Hurst. It only leads to arguments about 1966.

I’m not going to provide my own 11, but I asked a friend who knows a great deal to provide one to start you off.

Goal: Gordon Banks (England)
Left Back: Paolo Maldini (Italy)
Centre Back: Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
Centre Back: Franco Baresi (Italy)
Right Back: Billy Wright (England)
Left Wing: Johan Cruyff (Holland)
Centre Midfield: Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)
Centre Midfield: Michel Platini (France)
Right Wing: Stanley Matthews (England)
Striker: Pele (Brazil)
Striker: Marco van Basten (Holland)

Subs: Bobby Moore (England), Alfredo di Stefano (Argentina/Spain), Diego Maradona (Argentina)


The friend I asked for the list just realised that they named two strikers on the bench. Replace Alfredo di Stefano with Liam Brady (Ireland).

They have liberos in soccer? I am familiar with liberos only from volleyball.

Apparently they do. Baresi played in the position.

Erm…4 Englishmen, 1 Brazilian, no George Best, Maradona on the bench? IANA soccer expert, and I don’t mean to be rude, but perhaps you might want to question your friend about his choices!

After a little Internet research, I managed to clear up my confusion – a sweeper and a libero are the same thing! And a libero in soccer doesn’t appear to have any special privileges or restrictions, whereas a libero in volleyball has both special privileges and restrictions.

Johan Cruyff on the left wing? The guy was a center forward who was dropped into a free role in midfield depending on what the Ajax/Feynoord ratio in the squad was :wink:

George best in goal? Billy Wright in right back? Your friends credentials are very much under scrutiny! :smiley:

(this would be better in IMHO. Maradonna was Art, hence his inclusion in Cafe society.

Gordon Banks, even.

Don’t blame me; I’d have put Best on the left wing myself.

I don’t know about Billy Wright - he’s chiefly on the list because famous full backs are few and far between - but Gordon Banks fully deserves the green shirt. In 73 international appearances he conceded only 57 goals and kept 35 clean sheets, and in the 1966 World Cup he played 443 minutes without anyone scoring against him. The only keeper I’d even dare to suggest was better is Lev Yashin.

Jinty: the list was made late at night and on demand. Several hours work and research may have come up with a better one, but a perfect list doesn’t make for good discussion anyway. This list was made for you to disagree with; feel free to make your own suggestions.
PS: I reckon this belongs in Cafe Society rather than IMHO because it’s about the players in whose capable hands (and feet) the game transcended sport and became art.

Not offering my own team, but I will help fix yours.

Platini should be ditched for Zidane, if anyone. Platini was France’s greatest player at a time when France had no other great players. Zidane is France’s greatest player at a time when virtually everyone on the French national team has a Champion’s League medal.

I’d pull Puskas for Maradona, and then give Puskas’ sub spot to Gullit. I’d love to work Stoichkov in there, but I can’t see how. Jari Litmanen and Mario Kempes too. <sigh>

Does Giorgio Chinaglia merit any mention at all, or did he screw himself by leaving Serie A for the NASL in the '70s? Is there a sense of “what might have been?” with this guy?

Beckenbauer was also a NASL guy, so maybe it’s not the albatross I’m thinking it is.