Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 30 May 2006

The Greatest Squad of My Life (Part I)

While watching some archive World Cup footage from 1982 the other day, it struck me that Paolo Rossi must be just about the best player ever to appear in the Finals wearing a number 20 shirt. Let's face it, there can't be many other players that have given the number 20 such classic status... or has there?

What about Michael Owen and David Trezeguet in 1998? Or another star player from 1982, Poland's Zbigniew Boniek? Even Ronaldo pulled on the number 20 back in the 1994 World Cup Finals. And as for Peter Beardsley in 1986...

So it got me thinking... if I was handing out the shirts from 1 to 22 to the greatest players ever to grace the World Cup Finals during my lifetime (i.e. from 1971 onwards) who would get to wear which numbers? Who would be in that amazing squad?

Wonder no more. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you part 1 of my list showing the Greatest World Cup Squad of My Lifetime. Some of my selections are bound to be a little controversial to say nothing of ill-advised, but this is my blog and I don't care.

Actually I do care. You see as well as showing the player I've selected for the appropriate numbered shirt, I've also listed the other candidates I've turned down. This means you can tell me who else you might have picked instead and why. Just do it politely rather than using insulting language, that's all I ask.

So here goes with squad numbers 1 to 11. Read 'em and weep...

1. Zoff (ITA)
Other candidates: Kahn (GER); Schmeichel (DEN); Zubizaretta (SPA); Taffarel (BRA); Dassaiev (USR); Jennings (NIR); Schumacher (GER); Shilton (ENG); Ardiles (ARG); Clemence (ENG); Arconada (SPA); Tomaszewski (POL); Maier (WG)

2. Ardiles (ARG)
Other candidates: Cafu (BRA); Petrescu (ROM); Ferrer (SPA); F. De Boer (NED); Baresi (ITA); Gerets (BEL); Vogts (WG); Haan (NED)

3. Brehme (WG)
Other candidates: Maldini (ITA); Babayaro (NIG); Rijkaard (NED); Bergomi (ITA); Albert (BEL); Cabrini (ITA); Camacho (SPA); Brooking (ENG); Breitner (WG)

4. Vieira (FRA)
Other candidates: Kanu (NIG); Smertin (RUS); F.De Boer (NED); Koeman (NED); Dunga (BRA); Souness (SCO); Hoddle (ENG); Cabrini (ITA); Bossis (FRA); Bremner (SCO)

5. Beckenbauer (WG)
Other candidates: Staunton (IRE); Maldini (ITA); Falcao (BRA); Coppell (ENG); Hansen (SCO); Gentile (ITA); Krol (NED)

6. Gentile (ITA)
Other candidates: Roberto Carlos (BRA); Roy Keane (IRE); Hierro (SPA); Baresi (ITA); Branco (BRA); Passarella (ARG); Junior (BRA); Butcher (ENG)

7. Jairzinho (BRA)
Other candidates: Raul (SPA); Figo (POR); Beckham (ENG); Bebeto (BRA); Larsson (SWE); Overmars (NED); Maldini (ITA); Burruchaga (ARG); Littbarski (WG); Robson (ENG); Strachan (SCO); Molby (DEN); Keegan (ENG)

8. Socrates (BRA)
Other candidates: Desailly (FRA); Hamann (GER); Bergkamp (NED); Matthaeus (GER); Dunga (BRA); Caniggia (ARG); Scifo (BEL); Olsen (DEN); Wilkins (ENG); Francis (ENG); Panenka (CZE); Dalglish (SCO); Zico (BRA)

9. Ronaldo (BRA)
Other candidates: Morientes (SPA); Sukur (TUR); Eto’o (CAM); Batistuta (ARG); Kluivert (NED); Shearer (ENG); Suker (CRO); Milla (CAM); Sanchez (MEX); R.De Boer (NED); Careca (BRA); Voeller (WG); Butragueno (SPA); Francescoli (URU); Van Basten (NED); Beardsley (ENG); Krankl (AUT); Hoddle (ENG); Haan (NED)

10. Maradona (ARG)
Other candidates: Zidane (FRA); Rivaldo (BRA); Owen (ENG); Mboma (CAM); M. Laudrup (DEN); Raul (SPA); Sheringham (ENG); Hagi (ROM); Matthaeus (GER); R.Baggio (ITA); Scifo (BEL); Bergkamp (NED); Stojkovic (YUG); Gullit (NED); Lineker (ENG); Platini (FRA); Zico (BRA); Francescoli (URU); Elkjaer (DEN); Cubillas (PER); Wark (SCO); Kempes (ARG); Rivelino (BRA); R. Van De Kerkhof (NED); Rivera (ITA)

11. Ronaldinho (BRA)
Other candidates: Larsson (SWE); Eto’o (CAM); Asprilla (COL); Veron (ARG); Romario (BRA); Brolin (SWE); Barnes (ENG); Baresi (ITA); Blokhin (USR); M. Laudrup (DEN); Rummenigge (WG); Waddle (ENG); Smolarek (POL); Kempes (ARG); Ceulemans (BEL); Eder (BRA); Lorimer (SCO); Riva (ITA)

Part 2 coming soon...

The Full Archive

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