As the World Cup draws near – just a week away in fact – here is our all time greatest World Cup team. There are so many fantastic players to choose from, but we have tried to go for players who have consistently performed best at World Cups, or who have set off fireworks maybe only at one or two World Cups.

So, even though he would be considered one of the greatest players of all time, Messi won’t be in the World Cup all time best XI.

Because there are so many players to choose from, I’m sure you all have other ideas of who should be in the team. Comment below with your all time best XI, or let us know if you think any of our choices are ridiculous!

We’ve gone for a 4-3-3 formation. Click on the players for an explanation:

Dino Zoff
This was an incredibly hard choice. It could easily have been Gordon Banks. Dino Zoff played in four World Cups and became the oldest player to win a Word Cup at 40, when he captained Italy in 1982.
Cafu played in four World Cups and is the only player to have played in three World Cup finals, winning two of them. He was so good over such a long period of time, playing consistently well at the World Cup, that we had to have Cafu as our right back.
Paulo Maldini
Left back was a tougher choice than right back, and we were torn between the explosive Roberto Carlos who bombed forward to join in the attacks, and the typically Italian, rock solid, ball playing defender, Maldini. We went for Maldini, playing in one extra World Cup than Carlos, and just didn’t seem to have any weaknesses. Could also play anywhere across the back four.
Bobby Moore
We’d like to think the first of our centre back choices has been picked out of merit rather than just the fact he is English. Played in three World Cups, including the famous 1966 win as captain. He was also famous for the brilliant tackle on Jairzinho in 1970. There weren’t many better tacklers out there, which he combined with great leadership and authority.
Franz Beckenbauer
Beckenbauer also played in three World Cups and captained West Germany to the trophy in 1974. He is known by many as the inventor of the sweeper position, starting out as a midfielder and dropping back as a ball playing defender. We’d be very surprised if anyone left out this World class player.

There were so many options for midfield, but the three we’ve gone for have just edged it in our opinion:

Lothar Matthaus
We couldn’t leave out Matthaus. The only outfield player to have played in five World Cups, winning it in 1990. He is also the player to have played the most World Cup, with 25. He was a very versatile box to box midfielder, finishing his career as a sweeper.
Michel Platini
Our 2nd midfielder is someone who is regarded by many as France’s greatest ever player and is now president of UEFA. Platini played in three World Cups, scoring five goals and captaining the side whilst being their key player in 1982.
Zinedine Zidane
There are a lot, including ourselves, who think Zidane is actually France’s greatest ever player, rather than Platini. He was a joy to watch and scored some fantastic goals. He played in three World Cups, having a big impact in one way or another. He led France to the World Cup trophy in 1998 and scored two goals in the final against Brazil. He was also player of the tournament in 2006 as France reached the final again, but of course he will also be remembered for getting sent off for a charging headbutt on Materazzi in his last ever game. What a way to go!

There are two very obvious choices of forwards that we just couldn’t leave out. There are so many to choose from for the third, our toughest choice yet. So much so that as this is being written the third forward hasn’t been decided yet…

Our first choice is Pele – according to most people the best footballer to have ever played. He played in four World Cups and is the only player in history to have won it three times. Scored 12 goals in 14 World Cup appearances. We don’t think his inclusion can be argued with!
Diego Maradona
As hard as it is for us English to admit it, the only player to challenge Pele as the best ever footballer is Maradona. He played in four World Cups, helping Argentina win it in 1986. A footballing genius. Unfortunately he also came with controversies, such as his infamous “hand of God” goal against England, and later testing positive for a banned substance. Not enough to lose his place in our team, though.
Ronaldo (the Brazilian one)
This decision has just been made this second. It could so easily have been Gerd Muller, who scored 14 goals in 13 appearances across two World Cups. However, we went for Ronaldo. This was because he played in one extra World Cup than Muller (also travelled as a squad member in a fourth), and he is also the all time World Cup top scorer with 15 goals. He also scored twice in the final as Brazil won the world cup in 2002. It is a shame that he will also be remembered for his lack of fitness in 2006 after putting on weight (although he still scored three goals) and his ridiculous haircut in 2002!


There were so many players we had to leave out. Don’t forget to tell us your all time best XI, and let us know what you think of ours!

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6 Responses

  1. Phil Argile

    Platini?!? Poor. His performances as boss of UEFA should mean he’s banned from any kind of praise!

    I’m really struggling to see how Rob Green doesn’t make it after his performance against USA in South Africa!

  2. Davenation

    Gordon Banks

    Bobby Moore
    Roberto Carlos

    Lothar Matthaus

    Ronaldo (the fat one)

  3. AdeArgile

    If you are going to choose a World Cup XI then they need to have performed well in the world cup. Eusebio was outstanding in 1966, Cruyff in 1974 (player of the tournament), Fontaine in 1958 (13 goals in one tournament!), Puskas was the best player of his generation but not sure he was great in 2 world cups.
    Rivaldo disgraced himself by cheating and feigning injury. Maradona disgraced himself by deliberately punching the ball in the net in 1986 and testing positive in 1994. Neither would be in my best 11. Zidane was outstanding in 1998 (player of the tournament) but didn’t really performed in 2002 and 2006 and was sent off twice, one being his infamous headbutt!
    Not quite so easy to find an 11 who are truly good in more than one World Cup plus win a World Cup plus make a difference, which you need to be to get into the starting X1!!

    GK – Banks
    DF – Moore, Beckenbauer, Cafu, Carlos
    MD – Charlton, Ardiles, Iniesta, Matthaus
    FW – Pele, Muller or Ronaldo (the chubby one!)

  4. Nathan

    I’m only picking players I’ve seen play. Yeah, Bobby Moore looked great in the 7 clips of him I’ve seen but beyond that it’s just hype (whether justified or not). So, from the first WC I watched, USA 94, onwards.




    Ronaldo (or Diana Ross)

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