Left-Footed Best World XI: Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Ryan Giggs and More

Ed Wyman@@edwymanCorrespondent INovember 15, 2010

Left Footed Best World XI: Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Ryan Giggs and More

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 03:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates after scoring during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Mallorca at the Camp Nou stadium on October 3, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    The majority of footballers have been right footed. However, the contribution of left-footed players should not be forgotten. Some of the greatest players in the history of World football have played with the less common foot, perhaps a mark of class.

    Being left footed gives players a chance to do things from situations that others couldn't have. In some positions it is less important, but the left footers who play there are nonetheless great players.

    So here's a list of a World XI of left footers. The team perhaps isn't the most tactically sound, but it has been arranged to get in the players I feel most deserve to be there. It is a rather attacking 4-3-3.

Iker Casillas (GK)

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    MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 19:  Goalkeeper Iker Casillas of Real Madrid looks on during the UEFA Champions League group G match between Real Madrid and AC Milan at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 19, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. Real Madrid won the match
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Iker Casillas is an incredible goalkeeper. While he isn't a Yashin or a Banks, he isn't far off. He has racked up 394 appearances for Real Madrid as well as 116 Spain, and he's still only 29 years-old.

    He made his debut for Real Madrid at the age of just 18 and has been a regular since then, becoming the youngest ever goalkeeper to play in a Champions League final, just four days after his 19th Birthday. He has also become the most capped goalkeeper in Champions League history. In 10 years he has won every major competition he has played in, both in international and club football.

    An all round brilliant goalkeeper, he is arguably the best of the 21st Century and he still has plenty of goalkeeping left in him.

Roberto Carlos (LB)

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    MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 27:  Roberto Carlos of Fenerbahce during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Inter Milan and Fenerbahce at the San Siro stadium on November 27, 2007 in Milan,Italy.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Perhaps the best advert for the left footed free-kick would be Roberto Carlos's wonder goal against France in 1997. You've probably seen it, but if you haven't, it doesn't look like he's aiming for the goal.

    There is more to Roberto Carlos than a wonder free-kick, though. He could also run the 100 metres in a mere 10.6 seconds and has a 36-metre throw-in. He was sometimes criticized for being defensively weak, but he more than makes up for any weaknesses with his incredible ability going forward.

    He played 370 times for Real Madrid in the league, scoring 47 goals in the process. He is Madrid's most capped non-Spanish player in history, a commitment he re-affirmed when he offered to play for Madrid for free in 2009.

    125 caps for Brazil in just nine years demonstrates his consistency and just how vital he was to Brazil during those years. He helped his country to two World Cup finals, winning one and losing the other.  

Karl-Heinz Schnellinger (CB)

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    One of the 1960's greatest defenders, Schnellinger played in four World Cups and was renowned for playing consistently at a very high level.

    He found great success with AC Milan during his nine seasons with the club, winning Serie A and the European Cup. He was one of the first German players to find success abroad at club level at Roma, as well as Milan.

Paolo Maldini (CB)

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    MILAN, ITALY - MAY 24:  AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini in action during AC Milan v AS Roma on May 24, 2009 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
    Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

    Maldini is an AC Milan legend, spending 25 years playing professionally at the club. He also spent his youth career at the club, meaning that in total he was at the club for 31 years.

    Maldini's longevity was incredible, he was even voted UEFA defender of the year at the age of 39, and he continued to play for Milan until after his 40th Birthday, playing 30 games in his final season.

    Perhaps more of a left-back than a centre-back, Maldini was still an incredible player and one of the best left footers of all time, although his ability with his right foot has led many to believe that he is in fact right footed.

Ruud Krol (RB)

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    A tough, solid defender, Krol was also versatile. Under the system of Total Football, he could play anywhere in either the defence or the midfield. He is perhaps best known for his goal against Argentina in the 1974 World Cup, a 25-yard stunner.

    Twelve years at Ajax make him one of his clubs' greatest defenders. Until the year 2000, he was Holland's most capped player with 83 caps in an international career that spanned 14 years and three decades.

Ryan Giggs (LM)

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    HOUSTON - JULY 28:  Ryan Giggs #11 of Manchester United holds the All-Star trophy following United's 5-2 win over the MLS All-Stars in the MLS All Star Game at Reliant Stadium on July 28, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The greatest Welsh footballer of all time is also one of Manchester United's greatest players. He is the only player to have played and scored in every Premier League season. 11 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions Leagues represent the most decorated career in British footballing history.

    As his records suggest, he is an enormously talented player. As his game isn't founded on speed, he has matured incredibly well and if anything has become more influential in the last few years. He may no longer play every match, but he is still far more than a back up; if it's an important match, you can guarantee that he'll be there. 

Alfredo Di Stefano (CAM)

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    Di Stefano is one of Madrid's all time greats. In fact, they say that the Bernabeu leans to the left because of the amount of time Di Stefano spent on that side of the pitch.

    A prodigious goal scorer, Di Stefano would also be found all over the pitch, making crucial defensive blocks and creating chances. Di Stefano was total football before it even existed. Maradona has said he was better than Pele, maybe even better than him.

    He played for Argentina and Colombia but his greatest international success was for Spain, for whom he scored 23 goals in 31 matches.

Lionel Messi (RM)

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 13:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona controls the ball during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Villarreal CF at Camp Nou Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won the match 3-1.  (Photo by David Ramos/Get
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Lauded by many as Maradona's successor, Messi is a very talented 23 year old. By the age of 22, he had won both the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the year, partly thanks to a season that saw him score 47 goals in all competitions.

    He has been described as the best player of his generation, quite a compliment given that he is only 23 and has been playing top level football for just six years. You only have to watch him play to realise just how brilliant a player he is. His incredible speed and skill on the ball have seen him beat countless defenders with ease while his passing shouldn't be underestimated.

    His diminutive size and light build make his success all the more impressive, and embarrassing for the defenders he faces. 

Johan Cruyff (ST)

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    Cruyff was perhaps the player most associated with Total Football. Despite being primarily a centre-forward, Cruyff could be found all over the pitch as his technical skills, speed, agility and dribbling would be found all over the pitch as he helped deal out massive damage to oppositions. His vision was second to none as he his passes could split defences with devastating precision. 

    He invented the "Cruyff turn" that has now become one of the most often used tricks in the game, but at the time it was a phenomenal invention.

    His spells at Ajax and Barcelona were hugely successful, he is still one of the most well loved players in the history of both clubs.

Ferenc Puskás (ST)

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    Ferenc Puskas has one of the most incredible goal scoring records in footballing history. He managed an incredible 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary, while also scoring 509 goals in 523 club games.

    He was one of the Mighty Magyars, the Hungarian team widely regarded as one of the greatest international sides of all time.

    After the Hungarian Revolution, Puskas played for Madrid for eight years, scoring 157 goals in 182 games. He eventually took Spanish nationality and played for his adopted nation at the 1962 World Cup, although he was unable to score for Spain.

Diego Maradona (ST)

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    CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 03:  Diego Maradona head coach of Argentina gestures during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Quarter Final match between Argentina and Germany at Green Point Stadium on July 3, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Diego Maradona is arguably the greatest footballer of all-time. He is certainly one of the most recognisable names and faces in World Football. His two goals against England in the 1986 World Cup are two of the most famous goals in history. The first is known as "The Hand of God" and saw Maradona punch the ball into the goal, the second is known as "The goal of the Century" and saw him run over 60 yards and beat six defenders before scoring.

    He played 91 times for Argentina, scoring 34 goals. He captained his country to the 1986 World Cup final, in which they beat West Germany. Unfortunately, his career was plagued by controversy, especially the latter years, during which Maradona was caught using cocaine, in 1991, and steroids in 1994.

    Despite his flaws, his incredible footwork and mercurial dribbling make him one of the all time left-footed greats.

    After his career finished he suffered from a weight and drug problems which led to a lot of negative media. In more recent years he has been able to sort his life out and led Argentina as manager for two years.

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