Over the coming days, leading Spanish journalists and football experts will be giving their best team of all time in this newspaper, to try and pin down the 11 greatest players to have ever graced a football pitch. Once all 11 teams have been named, a final will be drawn up, based on which players were included the most times across all the sides.
Santiago Segurola's XI
Goalkeeper: Sepp Maier
Capped by 95 times by West Germany, Josef Dieter 'Sepp' Maier lifted the 1974 World Cup on home soil following the 2-1 win over the Netherlands in Munich. It was with the Bavarian giants that Maier established his playing career and wore the Bayern shirt in 536 appearances (from 1962-1980) with the Bundesliga side and in his time as a player won four domestic cups, five German league titles and three European Cups for Bayern. 'The Cat from Anzing' as he was dubbed was synonymous with spectacular saves and became famous for his sharp reflexes and agility between the posts.
Right-back: Carlos Alberto
The captain of the legendary Brazil 1970 World Cup winning side, the right back made his initial breakthrough with Rio de Janeiro based Fluminense but it was with Santos where the player consolidated his career playing in over 440 games for 'O Peixe'. Carlos Alberto made 53 appearances for the Brazilian national team and after retirement from the game moved into management and has overseen the likes of Flamengo Botafogo, Fluminense along with jobs with the Oman and Azerbaijan national teams.
Central defender: Franz Beckenbauer
Central defender: Sergio Ramos
Left-back: Roberto Carlos
Known as ‘O Rei’ (‘The King’), Pelé won three World Cups with Brazil after bursting onto the international stage as a 17-year-old at Sweden ’58. A wildly prolific goalscorer, he remains Brazil’s leading marksman with 77, while his total of 643 strikes for Santos was a record single-club haul until Barcelona’s Lionel Messi surpassed the figure in December.
Attacking midfielder: Lionel Messi
The other half of the individual duopoly that has dominated men’s football over the past 15 years or so, Messi has plundered an eye-watering, club-record 648 goals for Barcelona since his first-team debut in 2004 - including 455 in LaLiga, more than any other player - and has helped the Catalans to four Champions Leagues and no fewer than 10 Spanish titles. Winner of an unprecedented six Ballons d’Or, 'La Pulga' is also the Argentina national team’s all-time leading marksman with 71 goals.
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo
Los Blancos’ greatest ever player, Di Stéfano was the leader of the Real Madrid side that won each of the first five European Cups between 1956 and 1960. Often referred to as a ‘todocampista’ (‘whole-fielder’) because of his all-encompassing influence on games, he led Sir Bobby Charlton to exclaim: “I’d never seen anything like it before […], everything went through him.”