Just for Fun—My Fantasy Team

While I was writing my first Soccer by the Numbers post about how player jersey numbers have evolved, I got to thinking. Just for fun, I came up with a list of who I think are the best players in history to wear specific numbers.

Without further ado, I give you my fantasy team, and why I picked my roster.

#1. Lev Yashin, Russia: I wanted to pick Ossie Ardiles because he wore number 1 when Argentina allocated jerseys alphabetically but I thought it was a cop out.

#2. Berti Vogts, Germany: I Know it’s “out here” pick but he captained Germany during one of their most dominant eras.

#3. Paolo Maldini, Italy: He read the game so well and I loved his quote – “If I have to make a tackle then I have already made a mistake.”

#4. Franz Beckenbauer, Germany: He would be my captain.

#5. Zinédine Zidane, France: Not the normal number you would associate with Zizou but he wore this number for Real Madrid.

#6. Xavi, Spain: Great playmaker and a “winner”.

#7. George Best, Northern Ireland: Sorry, I can’t pick Ronaldo and who could not vote for the 5th Beatle.

#8. Frank Rijkaard, Netherlands: I thought about picking Iniesta here and could have gone either way but Rijkaard’s guile, strength and quickness and along with his success for club and country gave him the nod.

#9. Alfredo Di Stefano, Spain: Legend.  He led Real Madrid during a time when earned the reputation of being the best side of all time.

#10. Pele, Brazil: Sorry, Maradona and Messi fans – it’s the old school in me.  Messi’s obviously incredible but has to do it in a World Cup to take our Pele for me.

#11. Gareth Bale, Wales: I can hear the abuse already – but check it out.  Not a lot of greats wore this number.

Other notables not 1-11

#13. Gerd Mueller, Germany: The best pure finisher

#14. Johan Cruijff, Netherlands: Perhaps the best soccer mind ever.

I’m sure many of you will disagree. Have at it! When you consider who your best would be, I think you will find it’s not easy.  Too many of the top players wore the same number. I would love to include Platini in this list and I was close to picking Brazil’s Ronaldo in the 9 spot.  It was also a little harder as I was determined not to select an English player! Gordon Banks was considered for the GK spot though.

I think you have to judge players on how they performed in their era. One last note – do you know how tempted I was to include many more Welsh players on this list or even Leeds United Players from my childhood: 4 Bill Bremner, 10 Johnny Giles and of course 6 Norman “Bites Yer Legs” Hunter.

So who would you put where? Share in the comments below!

Huw Williams

Huw is an owner/operator of GSI Sports. He has worked in sports management and soccer coaching in KC since the mid 80s. He also holds the dual roles of General Manager for FC Kansas City and Director of Operations for the KC Comets.