Daily Mail’s football experts pick their World XI

Maradona or Messi?

A tricky game has been sweeping social media in which you are challenged to select a World XI, who you’ve seen play, but with no two players having represented the same club or country.

Here, Daily Mail’s experts (after much hand-wringing) offer their teams…

Ian Ladyman

My starting point was to ensure the three best players I have seen play live made it into my team. Sadly, the inclusion of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kenny Dalglish and Lionel Messi inevitably meant two of my other favourites — Graeme Souness and Roy Keane — have to sit on the bench.

Overall, I am happy with this team — world-class players in every position but designed to do the hard work when necessary.

Lothar Matthaus and Jean Tigana — a crucial part of Michel Platini’s brilliant France team of the 1980s — would provide a great platform for my gilded front four.

I guess the question-mark inclusion is Leandro at right back. He was an emotional choice — part of the fabulous Brazil team who flattered to deceive at the 1982 World Cup. Some players you just remember rather illogically and, for me, this flying defender happens to be one of those.

Ruud Krol at left back is another nod to my childhood. Skipper of Holland’s 1978 World Cup team, he played in the first final I really recall. It was a poor game but still awe-inspiring enough for me to be scolded for jumping up and down on the sofa when Holland made it 1-1 against hosts Argentina.

Krol is also one of the truly great Dutch players who never played for Barcelona — a big help given the parameters of this challenge! Finding a captain can wait for another day.

Chris Sutton

My old Celtic strike partner Henrik Larsson will never know how loyal I have been to him here.

His c.v. did not make selecting this XI easy. In one fell swoop, he took my Barcelona and Manchester United slots — even though he was only on loan at the latter for three months and made seven league appearances! It means no Lionel Messi and no United greats. Thanks for that, Henrik.

But the truth is the Swede had to make my XI because he was the best player I shared a pitch with.

I could not leave out Alan Shearer, either. This season marks 25 years since we won the title together with Blackburn, so he was my English pick.

I have visions for my midfield here — Zinedine Zidane at the base of the diamond, David Silva and John Robertson narrow, then Gianfranco Zola at the top, feeding Larsson and Shearer.

Robertson, a 1978 title winner with Forest, was one of the first names I wrote down. He was iconic on that left wing. There were others I might have included were it not for Zidane. The Frenchman stopped Marc Wilmots and Roberto Carlos making my XI because of their shared Bordeaux and Real Madrid connections.

After agonising over this team, it was not relief I felt upon finishing it. All I could think was — curse the person who came up with the idea in the first place! Try it for yourself and you’ll see.

Dominic King

After two hours, I had finally concluded the social media challenge Jamie Carragher sent to me and it was time to send him a message.

Claudio Taffarel, the great Brazil goalkeeper, was the last piece of my jigsaw, so I punched my XI into the phone and waited for a reply.

‘Brilliant!’ came the message, with a thumbs up emoji. ‘Put it on Twitter and tag me in!’

The tweet was posted. The first account to comment belonged to @Carra23. ‘Taffarel and Drogba played for Galatasaray!’

Here was the equivalent of a school teacher telling you privately your work is exemplary before informing the class it is riddled with mistakes. This particular class, however, had 1.5million ‘pupils’ and soon my many shortcomings were highlighted to increasing hilarity.

‘Van Dijk and Shearer both played for Southampton!’

‘Can’t have Keane and Van Dijk — both at Celtic!’

This prompted another two days of scribbling but, finally, I have cracked it. The nucleus of that first side remains — Maldini, Zidane, Messi, Godin and David Silva were non-negotiables — but the tweaks have been made.

If younger readers are wondering why Everton captain Kevin Ratcliffe and Jan Molby, Liverpool’s Danish prince, feature take a few moments on YouTube to watch them in their pomp.

Jeff Powell

Always build a football team from the back. Thanks to Moore the majestic, Charles the colossus and Beckenbauer the genius, we can go with a three-man defence.

Next, three of the all-time greats — Pele, Maradona, Puskas. Others who stand in that pantheon are eliminated by those first six. Pele axes Garrincha, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Romario. Bobby Charlton, Tom Finney and Gordon Banks bow to Moore (England) as does George Best (Fulham).

Maradona strikes off Alfredo di Stefano and Lionel Messi (Argentina) as well as Johan Cruyff, Xavi and the rest of the Nou Camp ensemble. Puskas takes out Ronaldo and Zidane (Real Madrid).

Beckenbauer eclipses Lothar Matthaus. And who more thrilling to complete a front three than Portugal’s Eusebio? Who more brilliant to create than Maradona, Gianni Rivera of Italy and Dragan Dzajic, the star of Yugoslavia? Who more formidable to anchor midfield than Graeme Souness? All given security by Yashin, the Tsar of keepers.

Good luck to any team picked under these restrictions taking them on!

*Pele and Beckenbauer are excused from knocking the other out as the NASL was an exhibition league when they played for New York Cosmos.

Kieran Gill

Three names immediately came to mind — Lionel Messi, Alan Shearer and Zinedine Zidane. No crossover of clubs, no nationalities the same, so into my XI they go with no hitches. Then Roy Keane. Still no hiccups. I’m on a roll.

Then I hit a wall. Cristiano Ronaldo should be included, but alas I already have my Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus representatives.

Next I consider N’Golo Kante, but I already have my Frenchman — Zidane. Ronaldinho? No can do. Messi is my Barcelona man. Virgil van Dijk? Nope. He and Shearer played for Southampton.

I was born in October 1991 so missed watching Paul Gascoigne in his pomp, for example.

But I grew up admiring some of the players I have named. These include Jay-Jay Okocha — the former Bolton midfielder who was so good they named him twice. I recall trying to replicate his tricks and tripping myself over on the playground.

By my reckoning, this back four have won 25 league titles between them, but it still proved difficult narrowing it down to them. I considered Kalidou Koulibaly alongside Vincent Kompany (thereby kicking out Branislav Ivanovic, moving Philipp Lahm to right back and Paolo Maldini to left-back). But I decided to keep three-time Premier League winner Ivanovic.

This lot would certainly win a game or two on their day.


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