Who is the best footballer of all time? And what would the best eleven in history look like? This is a common question that fans argue about. So for the answer, we went to an artificial intelligence who put together a rather brilliant eleven.
Of course, it’s very hard to pick just 11 players who have the right to be called the best in history. There have been hundreds of phenomenal footballers, but unfortunately they don’t all fit.
Goalkeeper – Lev Yashin
Probably an undiscussed pick. Lev Yashin is regarded as the best goalkeeper in history, nicknamed the black spider or black panther. He picked up a gold medal for the USSR at the 1956 Olympics, earning him the Order of the Red Banner of Labour of the USSR, and a few years later was the only goalkeeper in history to win the Golden Ball.
Right-back – Cafu
A legend of not only Brazilian, but world football. Brazil may have spawned more of an attacking star, but when you said Cafu, it commanded respect. He is the only player in history to have played in three World Cup finals, and once led the Canaries as captain. He won two golds, two more trophies in the Copa América.
Stopper – Franz Beckenbauer
Kaiser Franz, or “der Kaiser”. With his great playing style, his leadership skills and his dominance on the pitch, he is remembered as the best stopper of all time. A two-time Ballon d’Or winner, he led Germany to gold, silver and bronze at the World Cup, and gold and silver at the European Championship.
Stoper – Paolo Maldini
I guess there’s no argument here either. Paolo Maldini spent his entire career at AC Milan, where he, Tassoti, Baresi and Costacurta formed one of the best defensive lines in football history. He won the Champions League three times and won Serie A seven times.
Left-back – Roberto Carlos
On the other end of the defence, we’re crashing into Brazil as well. At just 168 centimetres tall, this guy had an incredible shot in the foot and, most importantly, an amazing fake. His goals from direct kicks are legendary. He has three Champions League trophies to his name.
Midfielder – Zinedine Zidane
Football as played by Zinedine Zidane was not a sport, it was an art. You probably wouldn’t find a player in history who looked more graceful and effortless with the ball at his feet than the French midfielder. There is even a ‘zidan’ tackle named after him, which he made with such ease that defenders didn’t even blink. He won the Ballon d’Or in 1998.
Midfielder – Johan Cruyff
Another footballer who left a big mark. An icon of Ajax and Barcelona, Cruyff was known for his amazing playmaking mindset where he could serve millimetre-long and unexpected passes to his teammates. Three-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Midfielder – Diego Maradona
One of the most talented players of all time. To be even the best, he lacked a bit of the lifestyle. Still, he is ranked in the top four players in history. The Argentine god led the Albiceleste to the World Cup title in 1986, making him immortal. His dribbling and ball handling is second to none.
Left winger – Cristiano Ronaldo
Anything worth adding? The greatest goalscorer in history, five-time Ballon d’Or winner and all-time record holder in the most prestigious competition – the Champions League. He has become a huge inspiration to millions of children around the world and is arguably the most globally famous sportsman in the world.
Striker – Pelé
He is often referred to as the best footballer of all time, although the Ronaldo and Messi era has seen him take a bit of a back seat to the title of King of Football. He became the first player to win three World Cup titles. In 1970, he was named the best sportsman on the planet. The number of goals he scored is a matter of speculation, as Pelé lists 1,283 goals, but between the 1950s and 1970s, statistics were poorly recorded, so officially Pelé has 757 goals scored.
Right winger – Lionel Messi
No need to add anything here either. Along with Cristiano Ronaldo, these are the only two footballers still playing in this eleven. And quite possibly the two best in history. The debate on who is the better of the two will go on forever, but Messi has the most Ballon d’Or in history – 7. A sheer genius with a God-given talent. I guess we’ll have to wait a few decades for a footballer like him.
The best line-up according to artificial intelligence
Cafu – Beckenbauer – Maldini – Carlos
Maradona – Cruyff
Messi – Pelé – Ronaldo
Source: Transfermarkt, ChatGPT
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