My Greatest World Cup XI Ever

With the first World Cup game just hours away, the wait is almost over. The greatest tournament on earth is about to begin. So I look back on 11 players who have made their name in the competition in the past. There were some really tough choices to be made, and some big names missed out. But to find out who made it, read on…

GK – Claudio Taffarel (Brazil)

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  • World Cups Played In: Italy 1990, United States 1994, France 1998
  • World Cup Appearances: 18
  • World Cups Won: 1
  • World Cup Goals: 0
  • Cards (Y/R): 0/0

First choice in a team that reached two finals, he conceded just three goals across his three tournaments and saved a vital penalty in the shoot-out to help win the first.

RB – Cafu (Brazil)

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  • World Cups Played In: United States 1994, France 1998, South Korea & Japan 2002, Germany 2006
  • World Cup Appearances: 20
  • World Cups Won: 2
  • World Cup Goals: 0
  • Cards (Y/R): 6/0

The only player to feature in three World Cup finals. Beaten in 1998, but victorious in 1994 and 2002, when he was captain. Also played in 2006.

CB – Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)

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  • World Cups Played In: England 1966, Mexico 1970, West Germany 1974
  • World Cup Appearances: 18
  • World Cups Won: 1
  • World Cup Goals: 5
  • Cards (Y/R): 2

A cultured sweeper who captained West Germany to victory in 1974, having been beaten in the 1966 final. Also featured in 1970.

CB – Daniel Passarella (Argentina)

Daniel Passarella of Argentina

  • World Cups Played In: Argentina 1978, Spain 1982, Mexico 1986
  • World Cup Appearances: 12
  • World Cups Won: 1
  • World Cup Goals: 3
  • Cards (Y/R): 2

Captained his country to their first triumph in 1978. Uncompromising defender but also good enough technically to break forward from the back.

LB – Paul Breitner (Germany)

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  • World Cups Played In: West Germany 1974, Spain 1982
  • World Cup Appearances: 14
  • World Cups Won: 1
  • World Cup Goals: 4
  • Cards (Y/R): 0/0

One of only four men to score in two finals (and he’s a left-back), netting the equalising penalty in the 1974 victory and a late consolation against Italy eight years later.

CDM – Lothar Matthaus (Germany)

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  • World Cups Played In: Spain 1982, Mexico 1986, Italy 1990, United States 1994, France 1998
  • World Cup Appearances: 25
  • World Cups Won: 1
  • World Cup Goals: 6
  • Cards (Y/R): 5/0

Only outfield player to have appeared in five World Cups. Lifted the trophy in 1990, avenging defeat by Argentina four years earlier. Most capped German player of all time.

RM – Garrincha (Brazil)

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  • World Cups Played In: Sweden 1958, Chile 1962, England 1966
  • World Cup Appearances: 12
  • World Cups Won: 2
  • World Cup Goals: 5
  • Cards (Y/R): 0/1

Part of the victorious 1958 side, Garrincha collected player of the tournament and golden boot prizes for his efforts in landing a second title in 1962. Also featured in 1966

CM – Pele (Brazil)

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  • World Cups Played In: Sweden 1958, Chile 1962, England 1966, Mexico 1970
  • World Cup Appearances: 14
  • World Cups Won: 3
  • World Cup Goals: 12
  • Cards (Y/R): 0

The only man to win the tournament on three occasions (1958, 1962 and 1970). Widely accepted as one of the best players ever. Made his debut as a 17 year old and announced himself to the world with a bang.

LM – Diego Maradona (Argentina)

Diego-Maradona

  • World Cups Played In: Spain 1982, Mexico 1986, Italy 1990, United States 1994
  • World Cup Appearances: 21
  • World Cups Won: 1
  • World Cup Goals: 8
  • Cards (Y/R): 4/1

The main challenger to Pele’s status as best player ever. Maradona scored brilliant goals against England and Belgium as Argentina won the trophy in 1986. Sent off in 1982, beaten finalist in 1990 and tested positive for banned substance in 1994. I’ve had to play him slightly out of position to fit him into the 11.

ST – Ronaldo (Brazil)

Brazil's forward Ronaldo celebrates after scoring

  • World Cups Played In: United States 1994, France 1998, South Korea & Japan 2002, Germany 2006
  • World Cup Appearances: 19
  • World Cups Won: 1
  • World Cup Goals: 15
  • Cards (Y/R): 2/0

ST – Gerd Muller (Germany)

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  • World Cups Played In: Mexico 1970, West Germany 1974
  • World Cup Appearances: 13
  • World Cups Won: 1
  • World Cup Goals: 14
  • Cards (Y/R): 2/0

Secured the trophy with his winner in the 1974 final against Netherlands but equally notable were his 10 goals in the previous competition in Mexico.

How they line up

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  • Total World Cup Appearances: 186
  • Total World Cups Won: 15
  • Total World Cup Goals: 72

 

In the end, only three nations made up the XI. Four times champions Italy had no representatives. None of England’s 1966 squad were in the team. Disagree? Let me know in the comments below and make your greatest World Cup at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-27699398

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