Greatest soccer team of all time: José Luis Garci
Film director José Luis Garci is the latest member of the AS jury to pick their all-time best XI.
Over the past couple of weeks, AS has been asking the members of its Legends XI jury to pick their best football team of all time, as we try to pin down the 11 greatest players to have ever taken to the field. Once every team has been named, a final line-up will be drawn up, based on which players were included the most times across all the sides.
José Luis Garci XI
Film director José Luis Garci is the next member of the jury to choose an all-time XI.
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas
Spain's World Cup-winning captain, Casillas was dubbed 'Saint Iker' for his habit of producing miraculous saves, the most iconic of which saw him deby Arjen Robben a seemingly certain goal in the 2010 final against the Netherlands. He was a three-time European champion with Real Madrid, where he established himself as a club great over the course of more than 700 appearances.
Right-back: Carlos Alberto
Carlos Alberto captained a Brazil side widely considered to be international football’s greatest ever to World Cup glory in 1970. His rifled finish rounded off what is arguably the finest team goal of all time as the Brazilians demolished Italy 4-1 in a memorable display in the final in Mexico.
Central defender: Franz Beckenbauer
Known as 'Der Kaiser' because of his imperious defensive play, Beckenbauer earned over 100 caps for West Germany from 1965 to 1977 and was captain as the host nation secured the 1974 World Cup with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands. Beckenbauer would repeat the feat as head coach of the Germans at Italia '90. The defender made over 400 appearances with Bayern Munich before winding down his career as a player in the NASL with New York Cosmos.
Central defender: Luiz Pereira
Left-back: Paolo Maldini
The son of AC Milan’s first European Cup-winning captain, Cesare, Paolo Maldini helped the Rossoneri add a further five continental titles to their trophy cabinet during a 25-year career at the San Siro, twice as skipper himself. Italy’s third-most capped player with 126 appearances, Maldini twice finished on the Ballon d’Or podium; only three other defenders have made the top three this century. His son, Daniele, has now become the third generation of Maldini to play for Milan.
Midfielder: Lothar Matthäus
One of just three footballers to play at five World Cups, Matthäus skippered West Germany to victory at Italia ’90, his dominant displays at the tournament also leading him to collect that year’s Ballon d’Or award. His country’s most-capped player, Matthäus amassed 150 appearances over the course of a 20-year international career.
Midfielder: Alfredo di Stéfano
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.”
Named by FIFA as the seventh best player of the 20th century, Garrincha is a World Cup great and a two-time winner of the trophy, having helped Brazil to consecutive successes in 1958 and 1962. Chosen in the team of the tournament on both occasions, at Chile '62 the winger became the first player to win the World Cup, the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball at the same finals. Considered one of football’s greatest dribblers, Garrincha spent the vast majority of his club career with Rio de Janeiro side Botafogo.
Forward: Lionel Messi
One 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 650 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.
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.
Forward: Paco Gento
Nicknamed the ‘Gale of the Cantabrian Sea’ because of his lightning pace, Real Madrid legend Gento remains the only player to have won six European club crowns. After starting out at Racing Santander, the winger spent 18 years with Madrid between 1953 and 1971, helping Los Merengues to not only dominate the early years of the newly-conceived European Cup, but also lift no fewer than 12 Spanish league titles. Gento won 43 caps for Spain, appearing for La Roja at the 1962 and 1966 World Cups.