The Greatest Team

Throughout our “Anatomy of a Successful Football Team” series, we have looked at what it takes to build a team capable of achieving continuing success.

Across seven articles, we have looked at:

After examining each of these, including attributes required, positives/negatives, best/worst, etc. we will finish this series by picking the best players of all-time in a team we feel would be world beaters.

For players, and the manager who will lead them, to be selected, they must fit the criteria mentioned in each of our separate articles.

So, here is our “Greatest Football Team”.


Alex Ferguson

In our “What makes a great manager” article, we said the attributes required were man management skills, leadership, confidence, tactical knowledge, and an eye for talent.

One manager who fits all of this criteria, and the man who we select to lead our greatest team, is Alex Ferguson.

Anyone who could deal with the egos of players like David Beckham, Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, and Cristiano Ronaldo, and still become the most decorated manager in football history, deserves to be called the greatest.

Plus the team would be given plenty of injury time if they were losing after 90 minutes.

Starting XI

We have selected a team playing a 4-3-3 formation, with a goalkeeper, right back, left back, two central defenders, a holding/defensive midfielder, two central midfielders, and an attacking three.

Our Starting XI is made up of players mentioned throughout this series, with one exception.

Lev Yashin

The only goalkeeper to ever win the Ballon d’Or and the greatest of all time. Yashin revolutionised the position and deserves to be between the sticks in the greatest team of all-time.

Berti Vogts

The only player in our starting line-up who wasn’t mentioned in our “What makes a great defender” article but who definitely deserves his place in our team.

Vogts made over 500 appearances at club level, and earned 96 caps for Germany, during his career. He famously marked Johan Cruyff out of the 1974 World Cup Final, helping his country to win the trophy.

Paolo Maldini

A versatile defender who is widely considered to be the greatest defender of all-time. Maldini was excellent in all areas, which made him the perfect all-around defender and perfect for this team.

Bobby Moore

If Pele says Moore was the best defender he ever played against, it would be a little rude not to include him in this team. The only England captain to lift the World Cup trophy was a born leader who possessed fantastic defensive capabilities.

Franz Beckenbauer

Beckenbauer created the advanced sweeper position and was just as good whether he played in defence or midfield. Composed, elegant, and a born leader, the German had fantastic passing ability and was often the starting point for his teams attacks.

Frank Rijkaard

Tenacious, ferocious, physical, and fast, Rijkaard controlled the play from a defensive midfield position. He read a game as good as anyone and was rarely beaten thanks to great tackling. The best defensive midfielder of all-time.

Bryan Robson (C)

England and Manchester United “Captain Marvel” who epitomises what a great midfielder should be. Led by example and had a brilliant work ethic. Ryan Giggs once said he never thought Manchester United would lose with “Robbo” in the team and that’s one reason why he is captain of this team.

Lothar Matthaus

Matthaus was the greatest box-to-box midfielder ever and possessed qualities other players could only wish for. Positioning, tackling, passing, and great attacking play made better by lethal shooting ability were all areas in which he excelled.

Marco Van Basten

Van Basten was a three-time Ballon d’Or winner who was technically gifted and clinical in-front of goal. His career was cut short due to injuries but he was intelligent, strong, and could score goals with both feet.


Arguably the greatest player of all-time, and the man who inspired football being known as “The beautiful game”. Pele possessed every attribute required to be a great player, and then some. To be honest, there’s really no need to explain him being in this team.

Lionel Messi

The best football player in the world right now, and who many people believe to be better than Pele. Again, no explanation is required for why he’s in the team as he is simply that great. Would also take direct free-kicks for this team.


Every football team requires back up options, and that is why we have selected seven players on the bench who could be called upon in the event of injuries/suspensions/poor performances.

Our bench is made up of:

  • Gordon Banks
  • Franco Baresi
  • Lilian Thuram
  • Xavi Hernandez
  • Johan Cruyff
  • Zinedine Zidane
  • Eusebio

Who would be your ultimate team?

Let us know in the comments below.

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