di Marco Montrone

From pre-war period to the new millennium: the "top 11" football players of each generation
To retrace the history of football through the names that have entered the myth of this sport: this is the aim of the following article which, unlike the usual and unreliable rankings that bring together players from different eras, has tried to redefine who have been the best players for each football generation. All of this by using a method as objective as possible.Notizia di proprietà della testata giornalistica © Barinedita (vietata la riproduzione)

The research is indeed based on hundreds of sources from all over the world: books, magazines, and websites that have over time tried to keep track of who were the best athletes on the planet. The article naturally takes into consideration a number of prizes and awards awarded to the various players annually (see the Ballon d'Or), as well as being based on thousands of games seen live or on television.Notizia di proprietà della testata giornalistica © Barinedita (vietata la riproduzione)

Some players have been "fielded" according to the criterion of the ideal 11, trying to respect as much as possible the position held during their career. In all the formations, only one name was chosen for each role, except in very few cases, in which we really didn't want to (or couldn't) choose.Notizia di proprietà della testata giornalistica © Barinedita (vietata la riproduzione)

The teams are all arranged with the 4-1-4-1: a formation that follows the old "Method" of Italy’s world champion in the 30s, recently taken up by both Tite's Brazil and Guardiola's Bayern.Notizia di proprietà della testata giornalistica © Barinedita (vietata la riproduzione)

Where number 1 is the goalkeeper, number 2 is the right full-back, number 3 is the left one, number 4 is the midfielder in front of the defence, numbers 5 and 6 are the central defenders, number 7 is the right forward, number 8 and on the 10th the central midfielders, on the 9th the center forward and on the 11th the left forward.Notizia di proprietà della testata giornalistica © Barinedita (vietata la riproduzione)

And finally, accompanying each "world top 11" (by clicking on the respective headline) there is always a gallery of photographs to scroll through between myth and romanticism.Notizia di proprietà della testata giornalistica © Barinedita (vietata la riproduzione)

World top 11: prewar, war and immediate postwar

1) Zamora, 2) Andrade, 3) Hapgood, 4) Monti, 5) Domingos Da Guia, 6) Nasazzi, 7) Scarone, 8) Moreno, 9) Bican, 10) Meazza, 11) Sindelar

World top 11: between the 40s and 50s

1) Maspoli, 2) Stankovic, 3) Nillson, 4) Varela, 5) Franklin, 6) Wright, 7) Matthews, 8) Zizinho, 9) Nordhal, 10) Puskas, 11) Ademir 

World top 11: mid 50s 

1) Grosics/Beara, 2) Djalma Santos, 3) Nilton Santos, 4) Bozsik, 5) Santamaria, 6) Wright, 7) Kubala, 8) Fritz Walter, 9) Di Stefano, 10) Schiaffino, 11) Puskas 

World top 11: between the 50s and 60s

1) Jascin, 2) Djalma Santos, 3) Nilton Santos, 4) Didì, 5) Santamaria, 6) Germano, 7) Garrincha, 8) Sivori, 9) Di Stefano, 10) Pelè, 11) Kopa  

World top 11: mid 60s 


1) Jascin, 2) Burghnich, 3) Facchetti, 4) Suarez, 5) Schnellinger, 6) Moore, 7) Charlton, 8) Rivera, 9) Eusebio, 10) Pelè, 11) Law 

World top 11: between 60s and 70s

1) Banks, 2) Carlos Alberto, 3) Facchetti, 4) Gerson, 5) Moore, 6) Beckenbauer, 7) Best, 8) Cruijff, 9) Muller, 10) Pelè, 11) Riva

World top 11: mid 70s

1) Zoff, 2) Vogts, 3) Breitner, 4) Neeskens, 5) Figueroa, 6) Beckenbauer, 7) Keegan, 8) Rivelino, 9) Muller, 10) Cruijff, 11) Blockin  

World top 11: between 70s and 80s

1) Zoff, 2) Kaltz, 3) Cabrini, 4) Falcao, 5) Passarella, 6) Krol, 7) Zico, 8) Platini, 9) Rossi/Kempes, 10) Maradona, 11) Rumenigge  

World top 11: mid 80s

1) Dasaev, 2) Amoros, 3) Briegel, 4) Schuster, 5) Passarella, 6) Scirea, 7) Butragueno, 8) Platini, 9) Sanchez, 10) Maradona, 11) Lineker

World top 11: between 80s and 90s

1) Zenga/Preud’Homme, 2) Bergomi, 3) Brehme, 4) Rijakaard, 5) Koeman, 6) Baresi, 7) Gullit, 8) Matthaus, 9) Van Basten, 10) Maradona, 11) Papin    

World top 11: mid 90s 

1) Schmeichel, 2) Cafu, 3) Maldini, 4) Desailly, 5) Sammer, 6) Baresi, 7) Weah, 8) Stoithkov, 9) Ronaldo, 10) Baggio, 11) Romario 

World top 11: between 90s and 2000s

1) Kahn, 2) Thuram, 3) Roberto Carlos, 4) Veron, 5) Nesta, 6) Maldini, 7) Figo, 8) Beckham, 9) Ronaldo, 10) Zidane, 11) Rivaldo 

World top 11: mid 2000s

1) Buffon, 2) Zanetti, 3) Roberto Carlos, 4) Gerrard, 5) Cannavaro, 6) Maldini, 7) Henry, 8) Kakà, 9) Shevchenko, 10) Zidane, 11) Ronaldinho 

World top 11: between 2000s and 2010s 

1) Casillas, 2) Dani Alves, 3) Lahm, 4) Xavi, 5) Puyol, 6) Terry, 7) Cristiano Ronaldo, 8) Iniesta, 9) Ibrahimovic, 10) Messi, 11) Eto’o

World top 11: mid 2010s

1) Neuer, 2) Lahm, 3) Marcelo, 4) Pirlo, 5) Thiago Silva, 6) Sergio Ramos, 7) Cristiano Ronaldo, 8) Iniesta, 9) Suarez, 10) Messi, 11) Neymar

World top 11: between 2010s and 2020s

1) Courtois, 2) Sergio Ramos, 3) Chiellini, 4) Modric, 5) Van Diijk, 6) Varane, 7) Cristiano Ronaldo, 8) De Bruyne,  9) Lewandowski, 10) Messi, 11) Benzema

World top 11 of all time

1) Jascin, 2) Andrade, 3) Maldini, 4) Matthaus, 5) Moore, 6) Beckenbauer, 7) Messi, 8) Maradona, 9) Cruijff, 10) Pelè, 11) Cristiano Ronaldo/Di Stefano


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Marco Montrone
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