Football

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi..

The last FIFPro World XI with neither Messi or Ronaldo is simply immense

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Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the same era has been quite the gift for the beautiful game.

Not a week goes by without a Facebook paragraph highlighting how lucky we are to have two of the greatest players in history fighting it out for the La Liga title, Champions League and Ballon d'Or. Playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid, too? You just couldn't write it.

Believe it or not, though, there was a time before their emergence to the top with Ronaldo channelling his greatest at Manchester United and Messi rising through the ranks at La Masia.

You have to go back to 2007 for the last time a player other than Ronaldo and Messi took home the Ballon d'Or, with Ricardo Kaka serving as a prelude to an epoch all of its own.

The Brazilian even cracked a joke about this very fact at the latest award ceremony, remarking: "This year is 10 years since I won the Ballon d'Or and every time Cristiano or Messi wins it's good for me because everyone remembers mine."

However, it's interesting to note that both Messi and Ronaldo still found their way into that year's FIFPro World XI alongside Kaka.

Both stars made their first appearance in the 'team of the year' as Kaka took the main accolade, with the 2006 XI enduring as the last dream team to be void of both players.

You would think, as a result, that the squad of 11-year's ago would be greatly downgraded but you'd be seriously wrong. In fact, just a quick scan of the team sheet and you sense an air of invincibility.

Take a look here:

GK | Gianluigi Buffon

At the peak of his powers, Buffon collected the World Cup this year and such is his legendary status that he collected FIFA's 'The Best' goalkeeper award 11-years later, too.

Final Italy v France - World Cup 2006

RB | Lilian Thuram

A World Cup and European Championship winner, the Frenchman traversed Juventus and Barcelona as one of the greatest defenders of his generation.

CB | Fabio Cannavaro

Captained Italy to the World Cup and bagged himself the Ballon d'Or.

Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio

CB | John Terry

Rising to one of the world's finest defenders under the wing of Jose Mourinho, Terry lifted a second consecutive Premier League title with Chelsea and came joint 20th with Lionel Messi in the Ballon d'Or vote.

LB | Gianluca Zambrotta

Another key player in Italy's World Cup winning team, Zambrotta is an absolute staple in this star-studded backline.

FIFA Club World Cup - FC Barcelona v Club America

CM | Zinedine Zidane

Even at the age of 34 and on the brink of retirement, such is the greatness of Zidane that he still made the World XI. An absolute great until the very end.

CM | Andrea Pirlo

The playmaker supreme in the great sides of both Italy and AC Milan. Pirlo was acknowledged for some of the best performances of his career with a place alongside legends.

Semi-final Germany v Italy - World Cup 2006

CM | Kaka

A fellow star in Carlo Ancelotti's mercurial AC Milan side, Kaka was showing signs of the Ballon d'Or greatness he would secure just a year later.

RW | Ronaldinho

The winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2004 and 2005, Ronaldinho's unrivalled talent continued to shine through even with a mediocre World Cup showing.

Barcelona's Brazilian Ronaldinho (L) and

ST | Samuel Eto'o

The pure-breed goal scoring machine at the cutting edge of Barcelona's Champions League winning side. No brainer.

LW | Thierry Henry

A final appearance in the World XI for one of the Premier League's greatest ever in a season that bagged him the Golden Boot and a hat-trick scoring goodbye to Highbury.

Who do you think is the best player in the world other than Messi or Ronaldo? Have your say in the comments section below.

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Topics:
Zinedine Zidane
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