The Italian League does not occupy the prestigious place it once did. English, Spanish, and German football teams dominate the European football landscape these days, and it’s easy to forget just how good the Serie A had it. The reasons for the Italian League’s decline are anyone’s guess.
You can almost give any reason that comes to mind for the league’s downward spiral; financial difficulties, poor recruitment, fan disobedience, racism, unending scandals, or even the absence of blazepod reaction lights in training. Whatever you think the cause is, Serie A is struggling to keep up with its counterparts.
However, this slide takes nothing away from the golden Serie A memories football fans around the world enjoyed. The Italian league has produced some of the greatest players to play the beautiful game. Thus, building an all-time eleven of the greatest Serie A Players is no small task. So many great players have graced this league that it’s almost criminal to attempt an all-time list.
Our dream team lines up in a 4-1-2-3 formation.
Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon narrowly edges compatriot and fellow Juventus legend Dino Zoff for our first choice goalkeeper spot. The 2006 World Cup Winner is arguably the greatest goalkeeper ever to man a football post. Buffon made his Serie A debut in 1995 with Parma at 17. He went on to have a glittering career spanning over 25 years with countless collective and individual trophies to boot. The Juventus goalkeeper also holds the record for the most appearances and clean sheets in Serie A.
Paolo Maldini won everything playing for AC Milan. The Rossoneri legend won seven Scudetti and an astonishing five Champions League trophies. Primarily a left-back, Maldini was the first name on every AC Milan team sheet from 1985 to 2009. The club retired his famous number 3 jersey on his departure from active football. Paolo currently serves as AC Milan’s sporting director.
Baresi, another Rossoneri legend, spent two decades in the red and black of Milan, captaining the team to six Scudetti and three Champions League trophies. Franco combined football intelligence and elegance with raw physicality. The 1982 World Cup Winner kept attackers at bay in a way that belied his relatively small frame. Baresi’s achievements on the pitch saw him voted Milan’s “Player of the Century.”
Fabio Cannavaro just knocks out Gaetano Scirea and Alessandro Nesta for the second center back position. The only defender to be crowned FIFA World Player of the year, Cannavaro brought a bold, unconventional style of defending to Serie A. He was one of the finest center-backs to step on a Serie A pitch. His career-defining moment, however, was captaining the Italian national team to World Cup glory in 2006.
The versatile Javier Zanetti played his first game for Inter Milan in 1995 and was the Captain of Jose Mourinho’s 2010 treble champions. The Argentine Legend holds the record for the most Serie A appearances by a foreigner. Capable of covering every defense and midfield position, El Tractor was an invaluable asset to every team he played.
Central Defensive Midfielder
Andrea Pirlo is probably the finest deep-lying playmaker ever to kick a ball. The current Juventus Manager was one of the few to play for Inter, AC Milan, and Juventus. Pirlo was a gifted technician who could dictate the game’s tempo and bring others into play. A winner of two Champions League titles and six Scudetti, the midfield metronome was a likable personality on and off the pitch. The dead-ball specialist was also an integral part of the 2006 World Cup-winning Azzurri side.
Left Central Midfielder
Michel Platini spent only five years in the Italian top flight, but such was his magic that he makes most Serie A greatest-player lists. The Frenchman handled the ball with poise and could evade markers with extraordinary ease. The three-time Balon d’Or winner inspired the Bianconeri to two Scudetti and their first European triumph. Le Roi was also prolific in front of the goal and was the highest scorer in the league for three consecutive years.
Right Central Midfielder
Zizou is unarguably one of the greatest playmakers of all time. The Algerian-born Frenchman could bend a game to his will and won two titles in his five-year stint with the Old Lady. His exploits with Juventus saw him win the Ballon d’Or in 1998. Zidane would glide past opponents and influence games with the ease of an opera conductor. His supreme abilities saw him leave the Serie A to Real Madrid for a world-record fee in 2001.
Diego Armando Maradona’a Serie A arrival from Barcelona in 1984 radically altered the Italian footballing landscape. His club Napoli was immediately able to compete with their more prestigious rivals. Maradona tore through Italian defenses and scored some of the most beautiful goals the league had ever witnessed. El Pibe de Oro led the Naples side to their only two Scudetti in 1987 and 1990.
Francesco Totti’s career was a tale of love and loyalty. The long-serving Roma legend turned down several lucrative to stay with his beloved club. He scored 307 goals for the capital club over a 25-year playing career. Totti was also a fantastic playmaker who could destroy defenses with a simple pass. Il Capitano led the Giallorossi to the 2001 Scudetto. He was also part of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winners.
Alessandro Del Piero
Del Piero spent 19 years scoring goals and winning trophies with the Bianconeri. He could play anywhere in the front three and easily adapted to any formation. His creativity and goal-scoring prowess saw him lift six Scudetti and a Champions League medal. Il Fenomeno Vero is Juve’s all-time leading scorer with 290 goals. Del Piero played an integral part in the Azzurri’s 2006 World Cup conquest.
Ours is an attack-minded all-time eleven. Arrigo Sacchi’s revolutionary football gets the nod over Fabio Capello’s pragmatism.