Go on any footballing forum, spend enough time at the bar of the local pub after a Champions League match or listen long enough to certain colleagues at the office and invariably the conversation will swing to listing the greatest rugby or football team, the best of yesteryear versus the cream of today and all that entirely inconsequential nonsense that, frankly, I love.

You know the routine: was Pele better than Maradona, Maradona better than Messi. How would Ali have done against Tyson or Lewis? Botham or Richards, Lara or Bradman?

Well, in that general spirit and given the recent spate of Manchester City doollally shenanigans I thought I’d compile, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, my greatest ever football team made up of the craziest cats that I can recall playing the game. A team packed with players of outrageous skills and entertainment value, laced with a bit of controversy, personality and the now legendary dollop of daft as a brush-ness. In other words, a team that you would pay bucket loads to see and support even though success may not be a guarantee. So, here it is along with reasons for inclusion. (NB – some of the facts stated may not be wholly accurate.)


Bruce Grobbelaar. Stiff competition for this position and just gets the nod ahead of Rene ‘Scorpion’ Higuita and that goalie from Paraguay. Our Bruce was a true entertainer. Capable of breathtaking saves and spectacular moments of lunacy and warmed the cockles of my heart as a kid with his hand walking at Wembley and wobbly legs in Rome. Wore a porn moustache with considered pride.


Josimar. Not the greatest full back in the history of the game but scorer of a couple of staggeringly good goals at the Mexico World Cup. Who can forget the footage of him with huge smile and long arms skipping with glee after he rattled a 30 yarder past Pat ‘Hands’ Jennings? Never heard of again afterwards. Ever! Rumours abound that he never actually existed.


Branco – raked a wicked free kick in from half a mile against Holland in USA 94 having come in as a replacement for Leonardo who famously caved in Tab Ramos’ face in previous game. Not hugely concerned with the defending role in his game, or for that matter, the running part. But give him 40 free kicks in a match and he’ll surely oblige with a goal.


Phillipe Albert. Not only did this guy look like the policeman from Allo Allo (good moaning!), he was also a centre back of prodigious showmanship. Always looking for the Hollywood ball and fit right into the Newcastle philosophy of not worrying about defending. Greatest moment – scoring an outrageous chip past Schmeichel in toon’s 5-0 romp over Utd. The most extravagant Belgian since Poiroit.


Frank Rikjard. A good footballing Dutchman. Basically he gets in the team on account of his silky skills and his famous spitting fight with the similarly moustachioed Rudi Voeller. 

Right Midfield

Georghe Hagi. More famous in his homeland than Dracula this is Romania’s greatest ever footballer. Without him there’d be no Adrian Mutu. Hagi was a player of extraordinary skill and absolutely no desire to do any running whatsoever. Would hang around doing nothing but look surly for most of the game before deciding to score a breathtaking free kick or forty yard volley or something. He was surly, arrogant, lazy and utterly brilliant. One of my all time favourite players, he walks into this team (literally).

Centre Midfield

Zinedine Zindane. Let’s be fair Zizou as he demands to be called was THE player of his generation. Scorer of big goals in big games and a man blessed with heavenly skills. As with most of his team mates in this dream XI for Zidane, defence is what goes around de-house and nothing more. Also, not averse to a bit of the old dirty stuff either. As Materazzi (Kramer from Seinfeld as I like to call him) discovered, you say bad things about Zinedine’s mum at your peril!

Left Midfield

Diego Armando Maradona. The only player to truly fit the description ‘genius’. Maradona was the most spectacularly talented footballer ever. Single handedly won World Cup 86 – if you know what I mean. Totally peerless in his sport, a man who veered from moments of sublime majesty to moments of out and out psychosis. Managed to be brilliant in 94 despite being unfit, coked up and a couple of latte’s short of a Starbucks. Team Captain.

Right Forward

Romario. Like Pele, scored over 1000 career goals. Unlike Pele, would never ever admit to impotence. This is Brazil’s true alpha male footballer. One of the most natural finishers in the game ever, he made everything look easy. Demanded a lot from his team mates – mainly that they do all the hard work like running and tackling and stuff. Formed deadly partnership with Bebeto. Naturally of course, they hated each other.

Centre Forward

Hugo Sanchez. As a kid growing up in Wales we were treated, long before goalazzo and football Italia and all that nonsense, to a Monday night program called Sgorio. This was a portal into the world of Italian and Spanish league football to a soundtrack of incomprehensible Welsh Commentary. The undoubted star of this Monday night feast of football exotica was curly haired Mexican Hugo Sanchez of Real Madrid. The man was a legend in my school. With the famous white and purple kit Sanchez used to spend most of his time airborne, springing about like Zebedee, trying and usually achieving the spectacular. I believe that one season he scored 150 goals for Madrid. All of them were over head kicks.

Left Forward

Hristo Stoichkov. Whilst Romario was helping Brazil win the World Cup his Barcelona team mate was single handedly turning Bulgaria into a good team – with a bit of help from bald headed Lechkov who knocked out the Germans and became a national hero. Hristo was very similar in personality and skills to Hagi (and in fact looks). Like so many of this team he was arrogantly brilliant and totally offended by the thought of moving around much or trying to defend. God only knows what the Barca dressing room was like when he and Romario were sparring. There is a tale that one year he complained to the powers that be as to why van basten was named European footballer of the year instead of him. Now that is the level of arrogance that Cantona could have only ever dreamed about. They just don’t make players like this any more – and the game is duller for it.

Manager – Ian Holloway. Just because he’s funny. 

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