Despite it’s recent decline, the Serie A has gifted us with some of the greatest sides in soccer history, from the post-war Torino side to the “Grande Inter” of the 1960’s to Sacchi’s AC Milan, Maradona’s Napoli and Lippi’s Juventus.
This XI encompasses players from different soccer eras, but they all have one thing in common: They were winners!
Some truly great, great players have been left out of this XI. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t fit in some of my personal football favorites, such as Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, John Charles, Gigi Riva and Lothar Matthaus.
I’m sure if a hundred people were asked to name such an XI, the result would be a hundred different selections.
Zoff’s career is truly a remarkable one, with his exploits for the national team and his role in the 1982 World Cup making him a true legend of the game. He also played in 20 different Serie A seasons representing three different clubs, with his stint at Juventus yielding an impressive 6 league titles.
In 11 seasons with Juve, Zoff played in ALL of their Serie A matches, even when well into his 40s (he retired at the age of 41). At one point, he also held the record for the most minutes without conceding a goal, 903. This was eventually surpassed by AC Milan’s Sebastiano Rossi, who was protected by a defense that is contributing to half of this XI’s back four.
Perhaps the last great sweeper soccer has seen, Baresi was superb. He skippered AC Milan for a surreal 15 years and made his role as the last line of defense his own. More impressive was his ability to start attacks right from the heart of defense as he marauded forward to join the likes of Rijkaard, Gullit and Albertini in building up an attack.
After his retirement, AC Milan decided to retire his shirt number, the number six, such was his impact on their history.
A gentleman on and off the pitch, Scirea sadly passed away at the young age of 36 in a car crash in Poland. Like Baresi, Scirea excelled in the sweeper role that had become widely used after Inter Milan used it to such good effect in the 1960s. Apart from seven Serie A titles, Juve’s very own number six also won all the domestic and European titles present at that time.