As the curtain comes down on an exceptional World Cup tournament, we decided to look back at the Best XI to never win a World Cup. Would this side challenge for top honours?
Goalkeeper – Ray Clemence – England
Clemence was one of the best players ever to put himself between the sticks for Liverpool and Tottenham. He played a combined total of 710 games for The Reds and Spurs. He donned his national jersey 61 times, having previously made 4 appearances at under-23s.
Clemence did go to a World Cup in 1982 but was never granted an appearance and therefore finished his international career never having the privilege of representing his country on the biggest stage.
Right-back – Jocelyn Angloma – France
Angloma was one the members of the French Under-21 squad that won the Under-21s European Championship in sizzling fashion. He had great success with Marseille and Valencia; winning each of the domestic titles, and winning a European Cup while making two Champions League finals also. However, despite his success at club level his national career was short lived – spanning just six years, managing just 37 caps and a single goal.
Centre-back – Bill Foulkes – England
Foulkes was the heartbeat of the Manchester United centre of defence for two decades. He made 566 appearances for The Red Devils, the fourth highest number of United appearances behind Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Bobby Charlton. He also scored seven times for United. Despite this he managed just a solitary England cap.
Centre-back – Sami Hyypia – Finland
Hyypia is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) player to come out of Finland. He is undoubtedly the best player not named Jari Litmanen to stem from the Scandinavian country. Hyypia played 105 times for his country and made a further 27 outings at under-21 level.
Hyypia is the joint-second all-time capped player for Finland, behind Jari Litmanen. Sadly for Hyypia and his country as a whole, Finland have never made it to any major international tournament.
Left-back – Duncan Edwards – England
One of the greats from the Manchester United ‘Busby Babes’ era. Sadly his life was cut short before he ever had the chance to grace a World Cup for his country. He scored five goals in 18 games for his country from a position not renowned for goalscoring.
Right-midfield – Matt Le Tissier – England
One of the most overlooked talents in English football. His loyalty to Southampton has been used as a weak explanation for Le Tissier’s lack of national caps.
His style of play was underappreciated in England for a long time and most English managers preferred tactics that would bypass Le Tissier during games. A mere eight caps was all this most-gifted of talents was bestowed.
Central-midfield – John Giles – Ireland
One of the best talents to come out of Ireland, Giles was an old-fashioned hard as nails midfielder, but one whom was also gifted with sublime talent. Giles dominated the English league during the 60’s and was unlucky that his talents were not matched by his compatriots on the Irish national team.
Attacking-midfield – Bernd Schuster – Germany
Schuster dominated the Spanish league for a decade – eight years spent with Barcelona and two with Real Madrid. He scored a combined 73 times in 131 games. He played a further three season in Spain with Atletico, scoring eleven in 85 appearances.
Despite winning the 1980 European Championship with Germany and being named the second-best player at the tournament, his international career was ended prematurely when he announced his retirement in 1984 at the tender age of 24 years old.
Attacking-midfield – George Best – Northern Ireland
One of the greatest players of all-time, whose career, and life, sadly petered out. Best made 361 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 175 times in an eleven-year span.
He then played for nearly 20 different clubs in the decade that followed. He had 37 outings in the green of Northern Ireland, scoring nine times for his country – however sadly for Best, and his country, he was at the peak of his career when Northern Ireland were in one of their worst slumps.
Left-midfield: Ryan Giggs – Wales
One of the greatest left wingers in the modern era, Giggs has won everything possible in domestic football, but accomplished nothing at international level due to the fact he was born in Wales.
He made 64 appearances for the Dragons and sits just outside of the top ten in appearances. He also scored a respectable twelve times from the wing.
Forward – Alfredo Di Stefano – Argentina / Spain/ Colombia
Di Stefano was so good he had to play for two national teams (although he apparently played for a third; Colombia, which is not recognised by FIFA). The man that many have labelled ‘the greatest player of all-time’, Di Stefano made six appearances in the white and blue of Argentina before declaring for Spain; where he scored 23 goals in 31 games.
Injury sadly resulted in Di Stefano missing out on the ’62 World Cup, having missed two previous World Cup’s due to Argentina’s persistence not to participate.
Craig Farrell, Pundit Arena.