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What’s your “Lifetime Best World XI” lineup?

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Your standard best-of lineup... but with a twist!

Selling souvenirs in St Petersburg, Russia Photo by Sergei Konkov\TASS via Getty Images

The latest football-related meme to go around Twitter is the creation of a World XI from your lifetime as a football fan. However, there’s a twist, and it’s causing a lot of people to go through some mental gymnastics to get right.

The gist: create a Best World XI of footballers that have played in your lifetime, but with the following caveats:

  • You can only have one player from a single country
  • No two players can have played for the same club

Here’s Jamie Carragher explaining further and his lineup.

This became a popular topic of conversation in the Cartilage Free Captain writer’s Slack channel, and conversation went on for over an hour, because it’s really challenging to find players that meet both of those criteria exactly. A lot of players were eliminated because two of them played for, say, Barcelona over the course of their careers.

But we had a few adventurous writers figure it out. There are a few constants (Leo Messi!) and a bunch of repeated names for various reasons — Jan Oblak is a popular keeper because he’s good, played for a small country, and never quite made it to the biggest clubs in his career. There’s also, you can argue, some recency bias as “your lifetime” is different for each person.

Here’s what we came up with. Put your own in the comments!


Vince (4-3-2-1)

Jan Oblak
Cafu - Giorgio Chiellini - Vincent Kompany - Branislav Ivanovic
Luka Modric - Roy Keane - Steven Gerrard
Marek Hamsik - Lionel Messi
Robert Lewandowski

Edward F. (4-3-3)

Petr Cech
Ledley King - Diego Godin - Vicent Kompany - Phillip Lahm
Zinedine Zidane - Marco Van Basten - Ryan Giggs
Lionel Messi - Sadio Mane - Francesco Totti

Sean Cahill (4-3-3)

Jan Oblak
Phillip Lahm - Rio Ferdinand - Virgil Van Dijk - Paolo Maldini
Gilberto Silva - David Silva - Luka Modric
Lionel Messi - Didier Drogba - Kylian Mbappe

Kim McCauley (4-3-3)

Jan Oblak
Marcelo - Vincent Kompany - Franco Baresi - Darijo Srna
N’Golo Kante - Paul Scholes - Marek Hamsik
Sadio Mane - Robert Lewandowski - Lionel Messi

Joel Wertheimer (4-3-3)

Jan Oblak
Phillip Lahm - Sergio Ramos - Giorgio Chiellini - Branislav Ivanovic
Fernandinho - Mousa Dembele - Ryan Giggs
Dennis Bergkamp - Alan Shearer - Lionel Messi

Ben Daniels (4-3-3)

Manuel Neuer
Ashley Cole - Diego Godin - Virgil Van Dijk - Paolo Maldini
Marek Hamsik - Mousa Dembele - David Silva
Cristiano Ronaldo - Kylian Mbappe - Lionel Messi

brett rainbow (4-3-3)

Jan Oblak
Phillip Lahm - Kalidou Koulibaly - Virgil Van Dijk - Darijo Srna
N’Golo Kante - David Silva - Daniele De Rossi
Cristiano Ronaldo - Harry Kane - Lionel Messi

Willman (4-3-3)

Jan Oblak
Phillip Lahm - Paolo Maldini - Vincent Kompany - Darijo Srna
Gilberto Silva - Paul Scholes - Zinedine Zidane
Son Heung-Min - Didier Drogba - Lionel Messi

Ryan Rosenblatt

Jan Oblak
Paolo Maldini - Rio Ferdinand - Sergio Ramos - Phillip Lahm
Dunga - N’Golo Kante - Pavel Nedved
Lionel Messi - Dennis Bergkamp - Son Heung-Min