Pele, Zico, Ronaldo and More: Picking an All-Time Brazilian Best 11

Phil ConstableCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2011

Pele, Zico, Ronaldo and More: Picking an All-Time Brazilian Best 11

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    Brazil is the spiritual home of football.

    Germany, Argentina and Spain have had their moments at the top of the footballing mountain, but let's face it—there's nothing quite like a Brazilian side at their best, providing potency and rhythmic harmony in equal measures.

    Making this list was tough. When considering some of the players left off this team, it really makes one think just how blessed with talent Brazilian football has been over the decades.

    No doubt there will be contrasting views and opinions but without further ado, here's my all-time Brazilian 11.

Goalkeeper: Gilmar

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    At 5'11," Gylmar dos Santos Neves probably wouldn't get a second look in today's world, but back in the 1950s and 1960s he was a beast between the sticks.

    In his 94 caps, Gilmar played in three World Cups, winning in 1958 and 1962. He's a simple choice for this team.  

Right Back: Cafu

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    The fullback positions are some of the more controversial positions on this list, given the wealth of great players Brazil have produced over the years.

    However, Cafu spent 16 years on the national team and has 142 caps to his name, the most by any Brazilian.

    He won two World Cups and two Confederations Cups.  

Left Back: Nilton Santos

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    My apologies to all Roberto Carlos fans, but Nilton Santos is the best Brazilian right back of all time.

    Santos made four World Cup squads, a staggering achievement for any era, and won the tournament on two occasions.

    A pioneer for the all the modern fullbacks of today, Santos won 75 caps for his country. 

Centre Back: Aldair

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    As previously stated, the fullbacks were incredibly difficult to choose due to the sheer number of players who could viably do the job.

    Picking the centre backs was equally tough but for the opposite reason.

    It should come as no surprise that the most defensive position is Brazil's weakest, but my first choice is Aldair. He won 80 caps spanning over a decade, which was mostly in the 1990s. 

    Aldair also helped Brazil to the 1994 crown and appeared in two other World Cups.

Centre Back: Lucio

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    Lucio has won over 100 caps and counting over the past  decade and has been a staple of the national side's defence over that period of time.

    With the 2002 World Cup to his name as well, Lucio is well worth his place on this team.

Right Wing: Garrincha

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    Garrincha won 50 caps over 11 years for Brazil and was well known as a wizard on the wings for a number of great Brazilian teams.

    The winger helped Brazil to World Cup triumphs in 1958 and 1962, in which he was voted Player of the Tournament.

    Pele was great, but Garrincha wasn't far behind. 

Left Wing : Ronaldinho

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    Twice the World Footballer of the Year, and with more tricks than Houdini, Ronaldinho at his best is brilliant to watch.

    With 91 caps to this point, and more probably ahead, the 2002 World Cup winner must make this team.

Centre Midfield: Zico

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    Zico, now incidentally the manager of Iraq, spent a dozen years on the Brazilian side, winning 72 caps and scoring 52 goals in the process.

    Zico never won a World Cup, shameful for any Brazilian international, but was still great enough to easily make this team.

Midfield: Socrates

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    Just like Zico, Socrates was an unbelievable player but has no World Cup titles to his name.

    Still, the midfielder won 60 caps over seven years and has a name befitting of his stature.    

Striker: Ronaldo

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    Just look at those teeth. But despite his distinctive look, especially after his 2002 haircut, Ronaldo is one of the greats of the past two decades and all-time for that matter.

    The striker scored 62 times in 98 appearances for his country and was unequivocally the most dominant player in helping Brazil to the 2002 World Cup.

    He was also in the 1994 Cup-winning squad and will go down as a Brazilian legend. 

Striker: Pele

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    Saving the best until last. What else is there to say but Pele?

    The best player of all time, Pele scored 77 times in 92 caps for Brazil, helping his country to three World Cups (1958, 62 and 70).

    The all-time leading scorer in Brazilian history, the diminutive genius should always be the first name on this team sheet.


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