And his set pieces? A joy to watch.
Zizou may be more renown for his time in Real Madrid, but he actually won the Ballon d’Or when playing with Juventus in 1998. A truly special player, Zidane wasn’t the quickest of players but drifted between defenders with such ease and class, especially with his Marseille turn.
We’ll probably never see such class ever again!
I certainly received lots of stick for including the Argentine legend in an all-time best Barcelona XI, but surely, surely, there’s no arguing his inclusion here!
Part of the famous Ma-Gi-Ca attacking trident along with Careca and Bruno Giordano, Maradona changed the face of Italian soccer by leading the southern city of Napoli to two Serie A titles at a time when AC Milan were at their peak. Yeah he MUST be in this XI!
Part of the “Grande Torino”, Mazzola tragically passed away at the age of 30 alongside his teammates in the Superga air disaster in May 1949. At the time, Torino were probably the best side in Europe and won the Serie A title five times consecutively. To put their standing into context, in 1947 10 Italian players who started a match against Hungary played for Torino.
Captain Mazzola was their talisman, scoring more than a hundred league goals in a career interrupted by the war and then so tragically shortened. Footage of his time on the pitch is rare but there’s no doubting his standing as one of the best players to have ever grazed a soccer pitch.
The “divine ponytail” won the Ballon d’Or in 1993 and followed this with an impressive World Cup 1994, which was unfortunately overshadowed by his last kick of the tournament, a missed penalty in the final against eventual winners Brazil.
Baggio had it all, an explosive turn of pace was matched by a wonderful touch and an eagle eye for the right pass. Most comfortable roaming behind the strikers, Baggio represented some of the greatest clubs in Italy, winning the Serie A with Juventus and AC Milan.
At the age of 33, he decided to join newly promoted Brescia, transforming a mediocre side into a mid-table one. Frequently criticized throughout his career, Baggio did most of the talking on the pitch and proved his critics wrong until he called it a day at the age of 37.