Pele, Maradona, Guardiola: Johan Cruyff named greatest XI ever

Johan Cruyff named his greatest ever XI

Johan Cruyff is a name that will always be etched in football history.

Cruyff was an extraordinary footballer during his 20-year professional career.

He then established himself as one of the greatest managers ever during a highly successful stint with Barcelona.

Cruyff sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 68.

Shortly after his death, his autobiography, titled ‘My Turn’, was released.

It is in the autobiography that Cruyff chose his greatest XI of all-time.

Johan Cruyff named his greatest ever XI
ST. ANDREWS, UNITED KINGDOM – OCTOBER 1: Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff during the final practice round of The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at The Old Course on October 1, 2008 in St.Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

“For the ideal squad, I also try and find a formula in which talent is used to the maximum in every case. The qualities of one player have to complement the qualities of another,” he writes, per Sky Sports.

Like his ‘Total Football’ style of play, the Dutchman’s XI is extremely attacking and you can view it below…

GK: Lev Yashin

“It can hardly do any harm to have a reassuring father figure to bring all those stars down to earth,” Cruyff writes about the legendary goalkeeper, who made 74 appearances for the Soviet Union.

RB: Carlos Alberto

CB: Franz Beckenbauer

CB: Pep Guardiola

LB: Ruud Krol

Pep Guardiola in action for Barcelona
1 Mar 2000: Pep Guardiola of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League group A match against Porto at the Nou Camp in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won 4-2. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport

Cruyff’s ‘Total Football’ philosophy requires each and every player to be highly technical. That’s why he went with two centre-backs who excelled with the ball at their feet: Beckenbauer and Guardiola.

Alberto and Krol are considered two of the greatest full-backs of all-time and both excelled going forward.

RM: Garrincha

CM: Bobby Charlton

CM: Alfredo Di Stefano

LM: Keizer

Speaking of Charlton and Di Stefano, Cruyff says they: “Fit together well physically. That puts them in an excellent position to do extra work for stylists like Keizer and Garrincha.”

Cruyff won three European Cup titles alongside Keizer at Ajax.

ST: Pele

ST: Diego Maradona

What a forward partnership Maradona and Pele would make.

Cruyff wrote: “Pele’s enormous sense of responsibility connects nicely with Maradona’s individualism. I know for sure that during the match Pele would watch over Diego as a kind of guide, because footballers have a perfect sense for that kind of thing. And Maradona would give something back to Pele, which would allow him to be fully appreciated.”

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both miss out, although it must be noted the autobiography was released in 2016 and both players still had many years left at the highest level.

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