Ex-England manager Glenn Hoddle is a regular columnist for Bleacher Report UK. Learn more out about Glenn's exciting new website venture, Zapsportz, here.
Well, this is a tough one. Who would be in my "Greatest Ever World Cup XI"? It's perfect timing on the day of the World Cup draw in Brazil.
I have given it plenty of thought, and it has been a really tricky decision to have to make—to name my selection for the greatest players to have graced the biggest tournament in world football.
When you look at the formidable array of attacking talent through the different generations, it is ridiculous to set the team up in a team shape or formation. You would just tell the attacking six to go out and play. This would definitely be total football.
|Hoddle's All-Time World Cup XI|
The fact that neither of the two Ronnies, Cristiano and the original Ronaldo, the fabulous Brazilian goalscorer, make my attacking six illustrates how difficult a selection process I had to go through.
I also left out Michel Platini from midfield and Eusebio from the attack. Cafu, Alberto Carlos, Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi were all players that went through my mind, but I simply couldn’t find room for them in this World Cup team of wonder.
The midfield would all be attack-minded, just as the attacking three would be. My team would certainly be entertaining, and packed full of goal potential.
Goalkeeper: Gordon Banks
There was a time when England had a large selection of world-class goalkeepers, but sadly that is no longer the case. While there is strong competition in this position, I go for Gordon Banks and recall that wonder save from Pele at the 1970 World Cup, as well as the fact that he was also a World Cup winner.
To think that they didn’t even wear gloves in those days...
Right-back: Paul Breitner
He might be left-footed, but I already have a left-back in mind and there are more left-backs I like than right-backs, so I would move Breitner over to right-back. It's a bold decision as he was more recognised as a midfield general and became the first player since Pele to score in two World Cup finals, but he did play in defence in his early days.
Left-back: Roberto Carlos
He’s simply the best left-back I’ve ever seen, with such wonderful free-kick technique, and he was such an all-out attacking player. That's what I love about full-backs—their abilities to be wing-backs and attack. Carlos symbolises everything I would want in an all-out attacking team.
Centre-back: Franz Beckenbauer
Class personified. Calmness, pace and the ability to effortlessly move into midfield and attack. He had a picture of every player on the pitch. He inspired me as a kid, when I saw him play a pass with the inside or then the outside of his foot. The mark of a great player is the ability to be just as effective playing through different eras.
Centre-back: Bobby Moore
He read the game superbly. He wasn’t that good in the air, he didn’t have blistering pace, but he was one of the most intelligent footballers you would have ever seen. At the age of 15 or 16 he could easily have been discarded, as English football wanted physically strong and towering centre-backs, but he was technically gifted and fortunately at the right club, in West Ham, to come through.
Midfield: Bobby Charlton
I have picked six wonderfully gifted attacking players who are so good that they can play anywhere in midfield in attack. It's therefore impossible to give them a position to pin them down; they would rotate and attack. There are so many truly great players that Bobby Charlton might even have to end up as the holding midfield player!
Midfield: Zinedine Zidane
I certainly don’t need to go into great detail about one of the all-time greatest midfield players. The biggest compliment I can pay him is that one of the greatest French midfield players of all time, Platini, cannot get into this side.
Midfield: Johan Cruyff
Here is one of my all-time favourite players, and if I had my way I would have the Cruyff turn up on giant screens in every academy in the country. Again, the measure of the man is that I am compelled to leave out so many other great midfielders.
Attack: Diego Maradona
Most people go for Pele as the No. 1 greatest or all time. Not me. For me it's Diego. I was yards from him when he started that iconic dribble to score his wonder goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. (I won’t talk about his first goal, though!) And I had the honour to play alongside him when he put on the Spurs strip to play in Ossie Ardiles' testimonial game at White Hart Lane.
Such has been the choice that I nearly left out Pele. How is that possible? Well, it could have been Ronaldo. Maradona won championships and World Cups virtually on his own in poor teams, but Pele always had great players around him for the important tournament.
Attack: Lionel Messi
Maradona and Cruyff were first and second choice; Messi would be my third. There have been great World Cup strikers—Paolo Rossi, for example—and Messi does need to win the tournament. Perhaps 2014 in Brazil might finally be his time.
*Zapsportz.com is an exciting new website where Glenn Hoddle reveals how kids from all over the world can enter the X-Factor-style Zapstarz, the former England manager's search for a new generation of footballing talent.
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