With the World Cup build up in full swing, we tasked Dave Tindall with creating his best ever World Cup XI. Playing them in a 4-3-3 with the full-backs bombing on to provide width, here’s his team:
Gordon Banks had already written himself into World Cup folklore as England’s No.1 in 1966 but four years later he made that incredible save against Pele, somehow hooking the ball over the bar when the Brazil No.10 was convinced he’d scored. England could have won or at least reached the final in 1970 but for Banks getting food poisoning ahead of the last-eight clash with West Germany in which stand-in Peter Bonetti had a shocker
Brazil ’70 are the best World Cup team of all-time. Right-back Carlos Alberto not only captained them but he rounded off their glorious fourth goal in the final against Italy, putting the exclamation mark on a wonderful display by thumping home from Pele’s caressed pass. Cool, calm and classy.
Let’s add some elegance into the mix. Bobby Moore was a Rolls-Royce in the heart of England’s defence in 1966, also having the presence of mind when panic was ensuing to play in Geoff Hurst for his hat-trick despite some people being on the pitch. Pele hugged him at the end of England’s clash with Brazil in 1970, the ultimate sign of respect.
Like Carlos Alberto and Bobby Moore, Beckenbauer had the ultimate honour of hoisting aloft the World Cup. That came on home West German soil in 1974. He was also manager of his country when they defeated Argentina in the 1990 final. A wonderful player and a winner through and through.
The German defender was left-footed, hence the No.3 on his back but, get this, he took the winning penalty in the 1990 final against Argentina with his right-foot. Imagine that! Why? He preferred to strike dead balls with his right. As well as being genuinely two-footed, he was also hard as nails and you need his sort in a defence.
Yep, another World Cup-winning skipper. You can’t get enough of them in the side and any World Cup XI has to have its share of Germans given that they’ve made the final more times than any other nation. As well as his buccaneering forward charges, Matthaus could control and organise. A huge presence.
If Matthaus brings power, Iniesta offers flair, invention and silk. Imagine him weaving everything together and playing in killer passes to the front three. The only Spaniard currently walking the earth who can say he scored the winner in a World Cup final.
The ultimate deep-lying playmaker. No-one could get the ball off him in the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany as a series of man-of-the-match displays helped Italy lift the trophy. Pirlo and Iniesta would give this side possession stats of at least 75%!
It’s the ultimate storyline that a star name can almost single-handedly drive and inspire his team to World Cup glory. Messi hasn’t managed it but Maradona did in 1986 – even if he did punch one in against England. His second goal soon after was absurdly good and he bagged two more in the semi before setting up Burruchaga’s winner in the final.
The greatest ever? To hold that mantle a career needs longevity and Pele helped Brazil to victory in the 1958 final as a teenager and in the 1970 final as an icon. Perhaps no-one had the ball on a string better than Maradona but Pele saw pictures in his head that no-one else did. Just witness that dummy on the Uruguay goalkeeper in the semi-final in 1970.
The 10 players I’ve listed so far all won the World Cup. Johan Cruyff did not but while Germany may have won the final against Holland in 1974, Cruyff was the tournament’s standout star. Skill, arrogance, balance and, of course, the move on the poor Swedish defender that coined one of football’s enduring phrases, the Cruyff turn.