In the next installment of My Legends XI, The Final Whistle Football Show pundit Chris Gallagher selects his Legendary 11.
As scientists will tell you, football achieved perfection in the 1995/96 season and ever since it’s been on a downward spiral. The modern-day ticky tacky tic, or whatever you call it, isn’t a patch on the stuff played in Serie A in the 90’s. That’s because Serie A in those days was kinda boring but that’s not the point, it was on Channel 4 and we all
had access to it.
Most of the players in my legends XI have plied their trade in Italy and some in Spain but, with the exception of Overmars, none of them played in England. I’m a huge fan of English football but it still doesn’t have the glamour or prestige of the Italian or Spanish leagues in my opinion.
Serie A in those days was what the English Premier League has become today and like Serie A the bubble will burst, be warned England.
Goalkeeper – Peter Schmeichel
Is he the greatest keeper of all time? Possibly but without doubt he is one of the biggest. He cast a shadow when strikers where through on goal that blocked out the sun. All round brilliant keeper and just pips Buffon to the number 1 jersey. Smashing red nose as well.
Right Back – Javier Zannetti
Has been a first team regular at Inter Milan for the last 16 years and has over 140 caps for Argentina. Mr dependable is as comfortable attacking as he is defending. He’ll be up and down the right hand side all day long.
Centre Back – Matthias Sammer
He Retired at 29 years old after a knee injury and did more in his shortened career than most. Could play Sweeper or in midfield and is the ball playing centre back that would lead this team forward. In 1996 he won European footballer of the year and lifted the European Championship with Germany.
Centre Back – Alessandro ‘Billy’ Costacurta
‘Billy’, as he was nicknamed, played till he was 41 at the top-level in Italy. Was part of the greatest defence in Italian and European football history, alongside Baresi, Maldini and Tassotti. Billy was the Quintessential Italian defender.
Left Back – Paolo Maldini
What more can be said about Paolo? He played in 8 European cup/Champions league finals, European football of the year twice and World player of the year once. Paolo was absolute class and a gentleman to boot.
Central Midfield – Lother Matthaus
In his day he was a box-to-box midfielder who had a thunderbolt of a shot. His passing and positional play was exceptional and it was no surprise that as the older he got the further back he moved. Was just as comfortable as a sweeper as he was smashing them in at the other end.
Right Attacking Midfield – Alessandro Del Piero (Captain)
The greatest footballer of all time and took over the Baggio mantle for club and country effortlessly. Set piece expert and constant professional, he’s Juventus all time top appearance and goal scoring record holder. The skipper of the team and when he talks attention will be paid.
Central Attacking Midfield (Free Role) – Juan Roman Riquelme
One of the most naturally gifted footballers I have ever seen, on television or in person. When given a free role the positions he takes up are world-class. Everything goes through him for whatever club he’s played for and thankfully he’s back in the Argentina squad. Could he cut it on a rainy Tuesday night in Aberdeen though? Yes, yes he could.
Left Attacking Midfield – Marc Overmars
Overmars was fast, powerful and everything that a winger should be. Two footed but played mainly on the left, his blistering pace was matched by his trickery on the ball. A very direct player, he was part of the great Ajax team that played in both the 1995 and 1996 Champions League finals.
Centre Forward – Luis Ronaldo
What a sensational player he was, the archetype of the modern-day striker. He was powerful, fast and scored 247 goals in 343 games for his various clubs and 62 goals in 98 appearances for his country. For all his success in the game people still talk about him never really fulfilling his potential. Direct and dominating, he really was a phenomenon.
Centre Forward – Martin Palermo
‘Loco’ as he was nicknamed was a powerhouse of a player. Injuries cost him a prolonged career in Europe but it is with Boca Juniors where he shone. His goals against River Plate have made him a legend at La Bombonera and his recent exploits for Argentina helped them qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. Saint Martin was an animal of a player but will not, I repeat NOT, be taking any penalties.
Most expensive goalkeeper of all time and its easy to see why. Unbelievable shot stopper but just as comfortable on crosses and really great communicator. Has the stature and confidence, a top man for club and country.
Great reader of the game and was a stalwart for Napoli and Juventus. Maybe not the most recognised player in the squad but was a constant professional and wore his heart on his sleeve.
He was arrogant, egotistical but all round was a wonderful footballer. One of the great German playmakers he scored a ridiculous amount of goals from midfield and could pass a ball through the eye of a needle. His great celebration at Euro 96 when his penalty knocked England out is a particular highlight
Marco Van Basten
What can you say about Marco? Well he scored THAT goal against the USSR in the final of the European championships. He was Capocannoniere twice and he retired young due to injury, master of the bicycle kick he also helped get the tackle from behind banned.
Rebrov & Shevchenko
You have to take these lads as a package as together they were dynamite. Practised blindfolded and developed a sixth sense of where each other was on the pitch. Together they put on a master class at the Nou Camp in 1997/98 as Kiev smashed Barcelona 4-0.