Football

South American all-star XI

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Diego Maradona is arguably the greatest player of all time (©GettyImages)
Diego Maradona is arguably the greatest player of all time (©GettyImages).

South America has produced arguably the two best players of all time.

For Brazil it's Pele, and for Argentina it's Diego Maradona: both have starred and won World Cups meaning they are sure-fire picks in this team.

Due to the power of this selection the likes of Romario and Gabriel Batistuta, two of the best strikers in recent history can only make the subs' bench. Alfredo Di Stefano is also not considered due to representing Spain for a longer period.

Here's a look at possibly the greatest South American XI of all time.

Goalkeeper: Jose Luis Chilavert | Paraguay

A prolific goalscorer and a set piece expert, Chilavert began his international career with Paraguay in 1989 and scored his first goal for his country that same year against Colombia in a qualifying match for the 1990 World Cup finals. The eccentric goalkeeper played the majority of his career with Argentine club Velez Sarsfield playing ten years with the Buenos Aires side, scoring an outrageous 36 goals given his position.

During his time in Argentina, Chilavert was voted World Goalkeeper of the Year in 1995, 1997 and 1998. He became the first goalkeeper to score a hat-trick in the history of football, scoring three penalties while playing for Velez. Chilavert also had spells in Spain with Real Zaragoza and France with Strasbourg where he won the Coupe de France in 2001. During his career the legendary keeper played over 700 games at club level scoring 59 goals. He was also capped by Paraguay on 74 occasions. He scored eight goals for his country, all of them vital.

Right-back: Cafu | Brazil

One of the greatest full-backs of all time, Cafu's career began in 1988 with hometown club Sao Paulo.  He enjoyed major success with the Brazilian side winning the Copa Libertadores two years in a row and also made his debut for the national team in 1990. The full-back was part of the Brazil team led by Romario that won the World Cup in 1994 and following the tournament, he crossed the Atlantic and joined Spanish side Real Zaragoza, winning the 1995 Cup Winners' Cup before returning to Brazil with Palmeiras a year later.

After a brief stint back in his home country, Cafu returned to Europe in 1997 joining Serie A side Roma. The following summer, Brazil reached the World Cup final for the second time in a row, only to lose to hosts France in the final. In 2001, Cafu won the Scudetto and the Supercoppa Italiana with the club from the capital and was gaining momentum heading into the World Cup finals in 2002. He captained his country to success in Korea/Japan with a 2-0 win over Germany in the final. The full-back became the first player to appear in three World Cup final matches.

The defender joined Italian giants A.C. Milan in 2003 and won the Serie A title in his first season. Cafu also won the UEFA Champions League with the The Rossoneri following a 2-1 win over Liverpool in the final of the 2007 tournament.  Cafu is currently the most capped Brazil player of all time with 142 appearances for The Selecao. He is best remembered for his tireless overlapping runs and the ability to attack as good as he could defend.

Centre-back: Elias Figueroa | Chile

Considered the best Chilean player of all time and one of the greatest defenders to ever grace the game, Figueroa international career began in 1966 and captained the country during their World Cup campaign that same year. The sweeper played the majority of his career with Uruguayan club Penarol where he spent five years and Brazilian side Internacional in which he played for four years.  He won both the Uruguayan league and the Brazilian league two years in a row, the first coming in 1967 and 68 and the second in 1975 and 76.

Figueroa played 47 times for Chile during the most successful period in the country's history within the game.  Chile qualified for the World Cup on three occasions, the 1966, 1974 and 1982 tournaments, he was also captain as the country finished as runners up to Paraguay in the 1979 Copa America.  In 1979, the defender was voted the 37th best player in the world of the 20th Century in 1999. 

Centre-back: Daniel Passarella | Argentina

Known for his leadership, passion and prowess on the pitch, Passarella scored over 150 career goals for both club and country which at one point made him football's top scoring defender. Despite being much smaller than the majority of centre half's at 5 foot 8, Passarella was a frequent threat from corners and was also an excellent free-kick and penalty taker. The defender has also been cited as a player who was a master of the dark arts in that he would often elbow team mates to gain an advantage for his team and avoiding the attention of the referee.

Passarella played the majority of his club career with Argentine side, River Plate. His first stint with the club lasted eight years from 1974-82 during a time when he also captained his country to their first World Cup success on home soil in 1978 and thus becoming the first Argentine player to lift the trophy following the country's triumph. The defender joined Italian side Fiorentina shortly after the 1982 World Cup where he spent four year before moving onto fellow Serie A giants, Inter Milan in 1986. Passarella was part of the Argentina side that won the World Cup in that same year, however did not feature in any match of the tournament due to illness. Even so, the defender became the only player to be a part of the country's two World Cup winning teams.

In 1988, he rejoined River Plate and remained with the club until retiring the following year. Passarella has since gone on to manage the team twice as well as Serie A side Parma and the Argentine national team. During his international career, the defender scored 22 goals in 70 appearances and is considered the best defender in the history of South American football.

Left-back: Carlos Alberto | Brazil

It shows the strength of this team that the legendary Carlos Alberto has to be played out of position at left-back. Despite this I'm sure he'd have no problem operating on the opposite channel. His career got under way at the age of 19 with hometown club Fluminense based in Rio de Janeiro, his performances for the Brazilian side caught the attention of Pele's Santos and Alberto joined his new team in 1966.

Alberto was made captain of the Brazil national team upon the 1970 World Cup tournament in Mexico. The full back was part of what is considered the greatest team of the modern era, joining the likes of Pele, Jairzinho, Gerson, Clodoaldo, Tostao and Roberto Rivelino. The defender's goal against Italy in the final sealed a 4-1 and is regarded as one of the best goals in the tournament's history and with it Alberto lifted the Jules Rimet trophy as Brazil celebrated becoming world champions for a third time.

Alberto retired with New York Cosmos in 1982 after an 18 year career. He won 53 caps for Brazil and scored eight goals. He managed former club Flamengo as well as Brazilian sides Corinthians and had two spells in charge with Botafago. In 1998, Alberto was chosen as right-back for the World Team of the 20th Century alongside fellow countrymen Pele, Garrincha and Nilton Santos.

Right-wing: Garrincha | Brazil

Nicknamed "The Angel with Bent Legs" Garrincha overcame personal struggle during his early life and went on to become a World Cup winner with Brazil. 

The winger played the majority of his 19 year career with Botafogo when he signed for the club in 1953. He won his first cap for Brazil two years later and was also selected for the 1958 World Cup squad. Alongside the likes of Pele and Nilton Santos, Garrincha was named in the best XI for that tournament as Brazil were crowned world champions for the first time.

The shining achievement of his career came during the 1962 World Cup. With Pele injured, Brazil were in desperate need of a star to produce on the biggest stage in order to retain their title. Step forward Garrincha and following a number of fantastic displays, Brazil were once again world champions and the winger was voted player of the tournament. Garrincha scored over 100 goals for the club he made his name with Botafogo, he was also capped by Brazil 50 times, scoring 12 goals. The winger was also selected for the World Team of the 20th Century.

Left-wing: Jairzinho | Brazil

Much like his partner on the wing, Jairzinho played the majority of his club career with Rio de Janiero club Botafogo. He is remembered as a quick and powerful player and also a part of the legendary Brazil World Cup winning team of 1970 and is one of only three players to have scored in every game of a FIFA World Cup tournament with seven goals earning him the nickname "The Hurricane".

After 15 years with Botafogo, Jairzinho joined French side Marseille for a brief stint. However he will be best remembered for his contributions to the Brazilian club, scoring over 150 goals and making more than 400 appearances for one of his hometown clubs.

The winger also won 81 caps for Brazil and scored an impressive 33 goals. He is also credited for kick starting the career of record World Cup goalscorer, Ronaldo when he spotted the Brazilian youngster as a 15 year old. Along with Garrincha, Jairzinho remains one of the country's greatest ever wingers.

Attacking-midfielder: Zico | Brazil

Okay it's asking a lot of the defenders, but I can't exclude the legendary Brazilian playmaker, Zico.

Regarded as one of the best passers of all time and one of the most gifted player's to ever grace the game, the midfielder played the majority of his club career with one of the teams based in his place of birth, the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janiero, that being Flamengo. In his twelve years with the side, he scored more than 350 goals in 500 games.

Zico shined in his twelve years with the national side, scoring 52 goals in 72 caps with the Selecao, earning him the nickname "The White Pele". However unlike his predecessor, Zico was unable to lift the World Cup with Brazil despite competing the 1978, 82 and 86 tournaments. The 1982 Brazil team was considered the greatest to never win the World Cup with a midfield that included Socrates, Roberto Falcao, Cerezo and of course the great Zico. Nonetheless the "No.10 from heaven" enjoyed huge success throughout his career in his homeland of Brazil and also in Europe with Italian side Udinese.

Since his retirement from the game in 1994, the Brazilian legend has gone on to manage the likes of Olympiacos, CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce and the Japanese national team.

Attacking-midfielder: Diego Maradona | Argentina

The joint FIFA Player of the 20th century with Pele, Diego Maradona is considered by many experts and fans as the greatest footballer of all time.

In a highly successful career, the highlight of his professional life came at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. The Argentine No.10 scored five goals during the tournament, none more famous for different reasons than his two against England in the quarter-finals.

The first goal infamously became known as the Hand of God for a blatant handball but the second however has been considered the greatest goal of all time. Maradona dribbled past five England players before tucking the ball expertly past Peter Shilton. Argentina went on to meet Germany in the final and their talisman lifted the trophy as captain.

He played the majority of his career with Italian side Napoli winning the Serie A title twice in 1987 and 1990 and also adding the UEFA Cup to his collection as the club won the trophy in 1989. The legendary attacker also enjoyed spells with Spanish giants Barcelona and hometown club Boca Juniors.

During his career, Maradona scored more than 300 goals at club level. He also represented Argentina on 91 occasions and scored 34 times for his country. Maradona also managed Argentina during the 2010 World Cup. He remains in an elite league of players who are considered the best to ever grace the game.

Striker: Pele | Brazil

What Muhammed Ali is to boxing, Pele is to football. One of the most recognisable sports figures of all time and arguably the greatest player of all time.

It all began for Pele at the age of 15 when he began his career at the club that he made famous, Santos. His talent was undeniable and he was immediately touted as being the best footballer ever. The legendary forward is the only player to win three World Cups and one of few players to have scored over 1,000 career goals.

He starred for Santos and the national team for over 15 years including the famous Brazil World Cup winning side of 1970. He remains The Selecao's top goalscorer of all time with 77 to his name from 92 appearances. He has been named Player of the Century by many different football organisations as well as being selected for the World Team of the Century in 1998.

His contributions and achievements will live long in the memory of every football throughout the world and "The King", as he affectionately became known as, can rightly take his throne as perhaps the best footballer of all time.

Striker: Ronaldo | Brazil

His goal hungry striker with such pace and clinical finishing. A defender's nightmare earned him the nickname "The Phenomenon".

Spotted by Brazilian legend Jairzinho as a 15-year-old, Ronaldo signed for Cruzeiro and made his debut the following year. His first season in professional football saw Ronaldo score 34 goals in as many matches, which instantly gained the attention of many of Europe's top teams. In 1994, the striker joined Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, a club Brazil team mate Romario once played for. His goalscoring ability continued and he soon joined Spanish giants Barcelona two years later.

After a brief stint in Catalonia, Ronaldo joined Italian side Inter Milan for a then world record fee of £19 million. During his time with the club he won the FIFA World Player of the Year and also the Ballon d'Or, receiving both awards in 1997. The crowning moment of his international career came during the World Cup in 2002, after being written off by critics before the tournament, Ronaldo scored eight goals including two in the final against Germany which helped Brazil become world champions for a record fifth time.

Following the tournament, Ronaldo joined Real Madrid for a fee in the region of €45m, during the club's Galacticos phase. He later played for A.C. Milan and Corinthians before retiring in 2011. The striker scored 400 goals during his club career as well as 62 for Brazil and is also the leading goalscorer at the FIFA World Cup with 15 goals. During his time Ronaldo was the best and most feared striker in world football

Substitutes: Claudio Taffarel, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Ayala, Fernando Redondo, Roberto Falcao, Romario, Gabriel Batistuta.

Is this your best South American XI of all time? Have your say below.

 

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