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Initial XI: Entire World Cup Legends

By Max Johnson

Very few players become legends of the game without making an impact at the World Cup. Injuries and limited team-mates can be restrictive given the nature of the tournament, with perhaps only George Best and Alfredo Di Stefano considered among the all-time greats despite failing to appear at football’s biggest tournament, so Soccernet takes a look at the top XI players who have made their mark on the biggest stage.

Is Pele the greatest of all-time?
Pele (Brazil): The definitive Entire world Pot icon, Pele won the Globe Cup with Brazil at just 17 years old in 1958, was component from the aspect that retained the trophy in 1962 and was then a key player inside victorious 1970 squad which is widely considered the best football group within the background in the online game. It absolutely was a time when referees liked to let the game flow, and he was mercilessly assaulted by his opponents online game right after video game, but he even now scored an astounding 77 ambitions in 92 appearances for his nation.

Diego Maradona (Argentina): His substance abuse was a black mark on his playing profession and his latest coaching stint is doing tiny for his legacy, but Maradona remains a legend close to the globe for his breathtaking expertise with a football. Maradona (and his Hand of God) took a decent but unspectacular Argentina facet to glory in 1986 and then near single-handedly took a far less outstanding facet back to the remaining in 1990. He remains the biggest rival to Pele’s crown and received substantially additional votes in the general public within the one-off FIFA Player from the Century award.

Eusebio (Portugal): A European Cup winner with Benfica and scorer of 319 goals in 313 games in the Portuguese league, Mozambique-born Eusebio made his mark on the world stage in 1966 when Portugal ended Brazil’s hopes of clinching the Jules Rimet Trophy for the third time in succession. He was a quick and powerful attacker with skill in abundance, and scored an incredible nine goals at the World Cup in England. Considered by many to be second only to Pele during his 60s heyday – a big compliment indeed considering the competition from the likes of George Best, Gerd Muller and Bobby Charlton – he ended his career with 41 goals in 64 appearances for his country.

Johan Cruyff (Netherlands): His attacking ideals have shaped the modern Barcelona team and, after playing the starring role as the Dutch came within a whisker of the 1974 World Cup, he is the player most closely associated with Rinus Michels’ ‘total football’ model. As a revolutionary trick, the ‘Cruyff turn’ looks almost quaint now, but it was just one of the many skills in his formidable armoury along with his remarkable awareness, control and accuracy. Netherlands’ 2-1 defeat to West Germany in the ’74 final came as something of a surprise given the effectiveness of their total football, and it was apparently down to fears over a kidnapping that Cruyff missed the 1978 tournament in Argentina.

Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany): Beckenbauer started his job to be a midfielder, but became renowned worldwide for his talent as a libero (sweeper), where his ball-playing abilities, combined with his power to read the online game, helped him come to be synonymous with the part. He scored four ambitions because West Germans reached the 1966 remaining and was portion from the part that completed third with the 1970 World Pot. Der Kaiser was built captain of the national team the following year and they went on to win the 1972 European Championship along with the 1974 Globe Pot. Beckenbauer’s leadership qualities and winning mentality extended to managing West Germany to achievement with the 1990 tournament, becoming the second man to win the Earth Pot as player and coach.

Puskas, the man labelled a “little fat chap”
Ferenc Puskas (Hungary): “Look at that tiny fat chap,” an unidentified England player is reported to possess said just before they met Hungary in 1953. “We’ll murder this lot.” Hungary, of course, won 6-3 at Wembley that day plus the Galloping Major’ hit a brace. “We didn’t know about Puskas,” Sir Bobby Robson after admitted. Puskas stood out in a team of greats, and it’s fair to suggest he may well have been a 1954 Entire world Pot winner experienced it not been for injury. He was component in the aspect that won 9-0 and 8-3 towards South Korea and West Germany respectively, scoring 3 plans along the way. But an injury hindered his progress and though Hungary beat Brazil and Uruguay in his absence, he was not fully fit when he played in the ultimate and they lost the match 3-2. Even without having that crowning glory, Puskas is remembered like a supremely talented player with perfect manage, a wonderful burst of pace and an unparalleled left foot.

Gerd Muller (West Germany): When Muller arrived at Bayern Munich in 1964, coach Zlatko Cajkovski had been sceptical of his physique. “What am I supposed to do having a weightlifter?” he asked, later on affectionately referring to him as “kleines dickes Muller” or “short fat Muller”. Nevertheless, the striker experienced a spectacular expertise for goalscoring, hitting 68 in 62 appearances for his country. England saw their 1970 Entire world Cup campaign brought to an untimely halt as Muller struck in extra-time to secure a 3-2 victory and he finished the competition with an remarkable ten plans. In 1974, Netherlands fell victim his talent as he grabbed the winning goal in that year’s remaining and, getting already hit 3 inside tournament, he established himself for the reason that World Cup’s all-time leading scorer, a record that stood for more than two decades.

Giuseppe Meazza (Italy): Current world champions Italy clinched their first two titles in 1934 and 1938, and inside-forward Meazza was the star of the show. He was the George Best of his day, a talented and stylish showman who could create and score goals of timeless invention and was famed for his habit of stopping ahead of the goalkeeper, inviting him to come for the ball and then taking it around him before placing the ball into the empty net. Meazza scored just twice at the 1934 tournament and once in 1938 – a penalty in the semi-final against Brazil when he famously had to hold his shorts up with one hand during his run-up due to an elastic issue – but he remains an icon of Italian football. He scored 245 goals in 350 appearances during a 13-year spell with Inter before an injury cut his career short. The San Siro stadium was renamed the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in his honour in 1980.

Ronaldo (Brazil): A player who, in his prime, boasted fantastic pace, close handle, the potential to ghost past defenders and a phenomenal strike-rate, Ronaldo became the Earth Cup’s all-time leading goal-scorer in 2006 and should rightly be regarded one particular in the greats from the video game. Possessing failed to generate an appearance as Brazil won the 1994 Globe Pot, he made his mark with four goals inside 1998 tournament just before – for causes even now unknown – he was left out of the group to the final after which it reinstated shortly before kick-off as France won the game 3-0. Whatever truly went on that day, Ronaldo had the chance to create amends four many years after as he hit eight goals – including two in the ultimate in opposition to Germany – as Brazil clinched the trophy for your fifth time. In 2006, he overtook Gerd Muller as he struck his 15th Earth Pot target.

Zinedine Zidane (France): Zidane marked his name within the competition’s background in 1998. Technically brilliant with exceptional command, he scored the very first two of France’s objectives from the 3-0 win over Brazil, both headers from corner kicks, and exhibited the full range of his skills to some global audience. Injury blighted hopes in 2002 as France exited with the group stage, but his 2006 swansong encapsulated the vocation of your sublimely talented but usually temperamental playmaker: he was the pivotal figure in the group stages previous to famously headbutting Italy defender Marco Materazzi from the chest and seeing red from the closing. Arguably the most effective playmaker to own kicked a ball, his knowledge will live longer inside memory of dedicated followers of the sport than his indiscretions.

Yashin in action versus West Germany inside the 1966 semi-final
Lev Yashin (Soviet Union): Brave, athletic and commanding, Yashin is broadly regarded as the very best goalkeeper of all-time and he experienced a specific expertise for stopping penalties. The secret of his achievement has gone down in legend: “Before a game I smoke a cigarette to calm my nerves after which toss back a strong drink to tone up the muscles.” Moreover to some host of domestic trophies with Dynamo Moscow, he won the 1956 Summer Olympics and 1960 European Championship with Soviet Union. He earned universal acclaim in the 1958 Entire world Pot as they reached the quarter-finals and, even though he did not have his greatest tournament in 1962, he won the Ballon d’Or the following year, remaining the only goalkeeper to possess done so. He went on to play a central part as Soviet Union reached the semi-finals in 1966 and, getting lost 2-1 to Portugal inside the third-place play-off, Eusebio later on hailed Yashin since the greatest goalkeeper he experienced ever faced.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Johnson, Max "Initial XI: Entire World Cup Legends." Initial XI: Entire World Cup Legends. 21 Jun. 2010. 17 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Johnson, M (2010, June 21). Initial XI: Entire World Cup Legends. Retrieved September 17, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Johnson, Max "Initial XI: Entire World Cup Legends"

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