World football: The best XI of all-time

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Ever wondered what the greatest XI of all-time would look like?

With so many world-class superstars to choose from, it's a seemingly impossible task to pick just 11 players - but here's my take on a team that would combine raw pace, brute strength, breathtaking vision and a multitude of goals.

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson | St. Mirren, Aberdeen & Manchester United

Where does one start? Ferguson is just the most sensational manager of all-time. That is not just because of his trophies, but the way in which he won them.

Some of his teams he developed into legends, while others he made them victorious through sheer willpower and an air of invincibility. 

Even United squads that lacked quality always somehow found the desire to win and, more often than not, emerge victorious. 

In his illustrious managerial career, Ferguson has attained practically every trophy available to him with a jaw-dropping four Scottish League titles, five Scottish Cups, 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, 10 Community Shields and two Champions League victories. 

In 27 years at Manchester United, he only lost 267 games out of 1500 with 895 wins - a truly phenomenal manager and certainly the greatest in history.

Goalkeeper: Lev Yashin | Dynamo Moscow & Soviet Union

The 'Black Spider' is the most incredible keeper in history. Yashin was renowned for his immense presence, lightning fast reflexes, incredible athleticism and near-psychic anticipation.

In his exceptional career he managed to keep an outstanding 270 clean sheets, saving 150 penalties! The Dynamo Moscow shot-stopper also made 75 appearances for the Soviet Union, winning the 1956 Olympics and 1960 European Championship. 

No other goalkeeper in the history of the game is as revered as Lev Yashin, giving him the deserved title of the greatest goalkeeper of all-time.

Right-back: Cafu | Sao Paulo, Real Zaragoza, Palmeiras, AC Milan, Roma & Brazil

Marcos Evangelista de Moraes is rightly known as one of the greatest defenders to have graced the game, making the right-back spot his own, both domestically and for Brazil.

It is difficult to name a trophy that this talented man hasn't won - with two Italian titles, two Italian Super Cups, a Champions League trophy, a UEFA Super Cup and two World Cup victories of 1994 and 2002 to his name.

Although he won the majority of his domestic trophies at Milan, he is quite literally revered at AS Roma, where he is one of only 11 players to have made it into their Hall of Fame.

Cafu's bombing runs along the right flank earned him the nickname 'Il Pendolino', meaning 'the express train'. He is also the most-capped Brazilian of all-time, after making an incredible 142 appearances.

Centre-back: Franz Beckenbauer | Bayern Munich, New York Cosmos, Hamburger SV & Germany

This defensive selection was made simply by fact. Beckenbauer is, without doubt, the finest centre-back to have ever lived.

His elegance, composure, strength and sheer dominance made him the complete defender, earning him the nickname 'Der Kaiser' meaning 'The Emperor'. 

Winning three consecutive European Cups with Bayern Munich made him the only person to have ever achieved this as a captain in each year.

He made 670 domestic appearances for his club and 103 for West Germany.

In his illustrious playing career he picked up five Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokal's, three European Cups, three American League titles, one World Cup and a European Championship. 

Centre-back: Bobby Moore | West Ham, Fulham & England

It is clear that there can be no better partner for 'Der Kaiser' than one of the most dedicated players to have ever worn the three lions: Bobby Moore.

His tackle against Jairzinho in the 1970 World Cup is regarded by many as the most exceptional tackle ever made due to its sheer precision and technical grace.

The former West Ham man's greatest achievement is his captaining of England to World Cup glory in 1966.

Beckenbauer himself described Moore as "the best defender in the history of the game", which goes some way to showing the level of esteem he was held in. 

Left-back: Roberto Carlos | União São João, Palmeiras, Internazionale, Real Madrid, Fenerbache, Corinthians, Anzhi Makhachkala & Brazil

This man epitomised all that is good about Brazilian football. He was fast, skillful, determined and had one of the most superb free-kick taking abilities the world has ever seen. 

Carlos also invented the banana kick, which remains one of the flashiest methods in the game of scoring a goal. He did all this as and yet still remained one of the fiercest defenders, with superb tackling technique and gung-ho determination.

The diminutive full-back's free-kick against France in 1997 is one of the most incredible goal to have ever been scored. He is a deserved champion who was one of the more quality players in the star-studded, World Cup winning Brazil squad of 2002 that included Cafu, Juninho, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Kaka and Rivaldo.

The number of trophies he won was also highly extensive and impressive with four La Liga titles, three Champions League trophies, two Brazilian titles and one World Cup. Pretty decent, wouldn't you agree?

Maldini did come close to usurping Carlos' role in this XI but it was felt that the latter offered more of a balance between attack and defence.

Right-midfield: Garrincha | Botafogo & Brazil

This right-wing slot was difficult to decide between the Brazilian, Garrincha, and the Portuguese, Cristiano Ronaldo. However, it is important to note that, while the former has achieved more currently, I believe that, by the end of his career, Ronaldo will be regarded as the best right-midfielder of all-time.

The diminutive Garrincha will probably go down in history as the greatest dribbler in several generations. In his 581 game career at Botafogo he also scored 232 goals, though not known as a prolific goal-scorer.

One famous Garrincha moment occurred against Fiorentina in 1958, where the 'little bird' beat four players and rounded the goalkeeper, leaving him with an open net.

However, rather than scoring straight away, he waited for a defender to catch up and then dribbled past him before hitting the back of the net.

This epitomised Garrincha as a player as his skills were legendary. The Brazilian winger also has two World Cup titles to his name.

Centre-midfield: Alfredo Di Stefano | River Plate, Millionarios, Real Madrid, Espanyol & Spain

Often confused as being a striker, the prolific Argentinian was commonly seen on the edge of his own area making decisive challenges as often as he was hitting the back of the net.

Di Stefano was a pivotal member in possibly the most successful team of all time - Real Madrid of the 1950s and 60s.

Considering they played far fewer games in those times, Di Stefano still managed 216 goals in 282 games at the Bernabeu, making him Madrid's 2nd highest goal-scorer of all-time, just behind Raul who managed 228 in 550 games.

At the time his versatility, vision and technical prowess were unmatched by anyone else in world football.

Although being born in Argentina, he represented Spain on 31 occasions (scoring 23).

Di Stefano's crowning achievement was capturing the European Cup five times in succession between 1956 and 1960. Among his other silverware he also won eight Spanish Primeira titles and one Spanish Cup.

Centre-midfield: Zinedine Zidane | Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus, Real Madrid & France

'Zizou' is by far and away the greatest player of his entire generation, in my opinion. The French magician had an outstanding career which culminated in one of the best technical finishes ever in the 2002 Champions League Final, which saw him hit an outstanding volley with his weaker foot. It is, personally, my favourite goal of all-time. 

Zidane has been named World Player of the Year on three separate occasions, a record matched only by the Brazilian, Ronaldo.

In total, the Frenchman earned two Serie A titles, one Italian Super Cup, one La Liga title, two Spanish Super Cups, a Champions League, a World Cup and a European Championship.

He once said that Paul Scholes was the best midfielder on earth but the majority of the footballing world note his words for modesty, as although the United man was a sensational, world-class talent, he simply couldn't touch Zidane for that little added luxury in his game.

Left-midfield: Francisco Gento | Racing Santander, Real Madrid & Spain

Easily one of the most successful footballing individuals ever, Gento is fully deserving of his place as the greatest left-midfielders ever. However, he did come under heavy pressure from Ryan Giggs to fill this spot.

He was supremely quick and could run the 100m in 11 seconds. This, combined with the Spaniard's dancing feet and goal-scoring prowess, highlights exactly why he gained a still unmatched record of six European Cups to his name. As well as this, Gento earned 12 Spanish league titles (in 16 years) and two Spanish Cups. 

This superstar was a major part in one of the most attacking trios ever to grace a football field, playing alongside Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano. In total, Gento made 592 league appearances for Real Madrid - scoring 128 - and has 43 caps for Spain.

Striker: Pele | Santos, New York Cosmos & Brazil

How could the greatest XI of all-time be compiled without the man who is widely regarded to be the most talented individual to ever play the beautiful game: Edson Arantes de Nascimento - better known as Pele.

In official competitions 'the King' totalled 656 goals in 681 games for his two clubs, making him the greatest goal-scorer in history.

He was simply unrivalled when it came to football exhibiting grace, power, speed and precision in every game he ever played.

Although he played most of his career in Brazil with Santos, they travelled a lot and played the great European teams of the time in order to market Pele's excellence. 

His trophy list is also one to be greatly admired, with three World Cups, 16 Brazilian titles (of two different varieties), two Brazilian Cups, among many others, amassing 40 trophies in total.

He is simply, the greatest striker ever and it is merely a question of who will partner him . . .

Striker: Lionel Messi | Barcelona & Argentina 

That man is Lionel Messi. Obviously many would disagree that he ranks above Diego Maradona - yet there is reasoning behind it. 

While Maradona was predominantly a second striker, he often seemed to play much deeper, resulting in fewer goals. In fact, Messi has already scored more goals in his nine-year career at Barcelona than the former Argentina boss scored in his entire 20-year career. 

It can also be said that Messi is playing at a time when the game is much more physical and advanced than it was in his predecessor's time. If he continues his remarkable scoring spree, the diminutive Argentinean could actually offer some challenge to Pele's status as greatest ever player. 

Messi also has a heavy collection of titles to his name with six La Liga titles, three Champions League titles, two Spanish Cups, five Spanish Super Cups and an Olympic Gold Medal with Argentina. He has also obtained the Ballon d'Or for four years running.

It's often said that it will take a World Cup win to solidify the young striker's reputation as one of the greatest ever, but he has proven that he is already, with his incredible trickery, explosive pace and insatiable appetite for goals.

Substitutes: Iker Casillas, Paulo Maldini, Cristiano Ronaldo, Johan Cruyff, Lothar Matthaus & Diego Maradona.

Due to the highly subjective nature of this article it’s apparent that many will disagree with what has been written. So what do you think? I want to hear your verdict - leave any comments you have below.


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DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Zinedine Zidane

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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