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My All-Time Best XI - Forwards

August 21, 2017

We’re at the forwards now, it’s been challenging to get to this point but it’s about to get even harder. In my side, I’ll have two forwards and one striker, the striker being decided in a separate shortlist. I’ve decided to separate forwards and strikers, essentially having a shortlist of players who operated better slightly deeper and another shortlist of out and out strikers. Some great players have already been left out of my XI, but this is where it gets really, really hard to select – Let’s get down to business.

 

Pele

 

 

 

 

Globally recognised as the face of football, and quite possibly the greatest to ever play the game. Pele scored a staggering, record, 1281 goals in 1363 games and is still Brazil’s all-time leading goal scorer with 77. Seven Ballon d’Ors and 3 World Cups are at the top of an impossibly long list of honours – Pele truly is The King of Football.

 

Major Honours

 

World Cup (3)

Copa Libertadores (2)

Intercontinental Cup (2)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Winning 3 World Cups with Brazil

 

 

 

Eusebio

 

 

 

The Black Panther, a Ballon d’Or winner in 1965, quite often appears on lists counting down the best players of all-time, and with good reason. Eusebio was a prolific goal scorer, recorded to have scored at least 790 in his career, he even won the Golden Boot in England’s finest hour at the 1966 World Cup, scoring 4 in one game against North Korea. Eusebio spent the majority of his career at Benfica, 15 years to be exact, winning 11 league titles and a European Cup in that time.

 

Major Honours

 

Primeira Liga (11)

Taca de Portugal (5)

European Cup (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Winning the European Cup with Benfica in 1962

 

 

 

Johan Cruyff

 

 

 

 

When you think Johan Cruyff, you think Total Football. Cruyff wasn’t your ordinary footballer, he was an inventor, with elegance never before seen on a football pitch. In his club career, Cruyff won 3 consecutive European Cups with Ajax, 9 Dutch Titles and La Liga among other honours, including 3 Ballon d’Ors. Johan Cruyff gave true meaning to The Beautiful Game.

 

Major Honours

 

Eredivise (6)

KNVB Cup (2)

La Liga (1)

Copa del Rey (1)

European Cup (3)

Intercontinental Cup (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Winning 3 consecutive European Cups with Ajax

 

 

 

 

Marco Van Basten

 

 

 

 

Injury unfortunately ended Van Basten’s career prematurely at the age of 28, but that doesn’t take anything away from a glittering career with Ajax, Milan and of course Holland. The second Dutch man on this shortlist did the one thing that eluded Cruyff, and many other Dutch greats, and that was to win a major tournament with Holland. The two-time European Cup winner was instrumental in Holland’s success at the 1988 European Championship, scoring one of the most famous goals of all-time in the final against Soviet Union, giving Holland their first ever major title.

 

Major Honours

 

Eredivise (2)

KNVB Cup (3)

Serie A (3)

European Cup (2)

Intercontinental Cup (2)

European Championship (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Winning the 1988 European Championship with Holland

 

 

 

 

Diego Maradona

 

 

 

In the opinion of many, the greatest of all-time, Diego Maradona was a genius, it’s as simple as that. The Golden Boy’s finest moment came at the 1986 World Cup, captaining Argentina to victory with a game against England on the way catching the eye. One goal summed up Maradona’s genius, dribbling past 5 England players before slotting the ball past Shilton, the other tipped a hat to Maradona’s mischevious side and what would be infamously known as The Hand of God goal. The cold hard truth is that if it wasn’t for his personal demons, Maradona could have been even better than he was, which is nothing short of frightening.

 

Major Honours

 

Argentine Primera Division (1)

Copa del Rey (1)

Serie A (2)

Coppa Italia (1)

World Cup (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Winning the 1986 World Cup with Argentina

 

 

Ferenc Puskas

 

 

 

84 goals in 85 games for his country, and 514 goals in 529 games at club level says it all. After immigrating to Spain to join Real Madrid in 1958, Puskas enjoyed huge success with Los Blancos, winning three European Cups, scoring 4 goals in the 1960 final against Frankfurt. At international level, Puskas narrowly missed with Hungary at the 1954 World Cup, scoring in a final defeat against West Germany, he was however named the player of the tournament. A fantastic career that is still appreciated now, in 2009 FIFA introduced the Puskas award which is awarded to the player who has scored ‘the most beautiful goal’ each year.

 

Major Honours

 

Hungarian League (5)

Spanish League (5)

European Cup (3)

Intercontinental Cup (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Scoring 4 goals in the 1960 European Cup final

 

 

Roberto Baggio

 

 

 

 

Roberto Baggio is unfortunately remembered by many as the nearly man who couldn’t quite capture the gold with Italy – The missed penalty in the 1994 World Cup final probably still gives him sleepless nights. Baggio, despite all of that, was supremely talented, at times needing to be seen to be believed. The 1993 World Player of the Year scored over 300 goals in his club career whilst playing for Italian heavyweights such as Milan, Inter, Juve and Fiorentina. Voted fourth in FIFA’s Player of the Century poll, a successful penalty in that ’94 shoot-out may well have got him higher.

 

Major Honours

 

Serie A (2)

Coppa Italia (1)

 

Stand-out Achievement

 

Winning the Ballon d’Or in 1993

 

 

 

So that’s that – Some players it hurt me to leave off the shortlist, but nothing hurts me more than what I’m about to do. Cruyff, Van Basten, I’m sorry – My forwards are;

 

Pele and Maradona

 

I always intended to squeeze Pele, Maradona, Ronaldo and Messi into my team. Those 4, as individuals are on a different planet to anyone else in this team I feel. That said, a lot of players have missed out narrowly, but leaving out Van Basten and Cruyff has been the most difficult decision so far.

 

 

 

 

Now the forwards are picked, I need to select one final player – the striker! I’ll be hoping to complete the side later this week. Have I missed your pick from my list? Let me know @zefutbolwriter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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