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John Giles' 'Rest of the World' XI - "I used to dream about playing them"

John Giles, it is fair to say, played against some serious talent during his years for the Republ...


John Giles' 'Rest of the World' XI - "I used to dream about playing them"

John Giles, it is fair to say, played against some serious talent during his years for the Republic of Ireland, Manchester United and Leeds United.

This week, he treated Off The Ball to his best-ever 'Rest of the World' XI - answers on a postcard as to who is going to be doing the defensive work.

Presumably, John might substitute himself on. Without further ado...

Dino Zoff

Undated file shot of Italian international goalkeeper Dino Zoff.

Zoff captained Italy to World Cup glory in 1982 at the age of 40 - he was a six-time league winner with Juventus, won the UEFA Cup and on losing team in two European Cup finals. Safe hands.

"He was a stalwart for Italy. He had a good presence, a good physique and didn't panic.

"European goalkeepers used to be a bit of a joke in England and Ireland - but this fella was no joke. He was the real McCoy."

Carlos Alberto

Mexico President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (l) looks on as Brazil captain Carlos Alberto (r) is presented with the Jules Rimet Trophy after his team's 4-1 win

Alberto was the 1970 World Cup-winning captain with Brazil, where his overlapping goal in the 1970 final win over Italy is considered one of the best goals in the history of the tournament.

"I played against him when he played for the New York Cosmos. He was a tough nut - he could play but he could get stuck in!

"Fran O'Brien knocked the ball past Alberto and he gave him such a smack! I had a word with him and he could speak English alright - he told me to f*** off!"

Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer, German President of the national soccer team FC Bayern Munich, and his first wife Brigitte during a party in Munich, 1975.

‘Der Kaiser’ was the 1974 World Cup-winning captain with West Germany. As a player, he was the winner of the Euros, World Cup and European Cup as a player and the 1990 World Cup as a manager.

Most gratifyingly of all, he is John's XI.

"What a player. He started out as a midfielder and dropped into the back. He was unbelievable.

"When he got on the ball, he always had a load of room. People would say to me: why don't you get stuck in?

"He did what the best players do - give you two choices: the bad one and the terrible one!

"If you would go for him, he would just jog past you. He was lightning fast.

"He was like two players - a great defender and when he got on the ball, he was like a midfielder!"

Berti Vogts

West Germany's Berti Vogts (r) challenges Australia's Branko Buljevic (r).

Vogts was Beckenbauer’s central defensive partner for their European Championships win in 1972 and World Cup win in 1974. He also, less spectacularly, managed Scotland.

"He was another guy that could dish it out - I had a couple of goes with him!

"He was good at it, he'd give you a sly one when the ref wasn't looking.

"Vogts was great going forward and at the back - very quick."

Daniel Passarella

Argentina's Daniel Passarella holds up the trophy after beating The Netherlands in the final

Passarella was the 1978 World Cup-winning captain with Argentina and was the top-scoring defender before Ronald Koeman, getting 134 goals in his career.

Giles played Passarella in a friendly match, which he thought would be an Argentina eleven.

"We found out we were playing the  Argentina national team - the day of the game!

"It was like going into the Coliseum - they were brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

"It is the best result I ever had in my life - it finished 3-1 to them. It could have been 8!

"That was one of the best nights I ever had after a match."

We dread to think. As for Pasarella:

"Pasarella was brilliant. He was only a little fella, playing against Ray Treacy - he said 'first ball, whack it up to me," he said, with Treacy believing he could have him beaten.

"We did it, the next thing we know, Pasarella's about four feet above him in the air!"

Michel Platini

Michel Platini at the award ceremony for the European Football Championship in 1984. UEFA President Georges ( 2nd from left ) congratulates Platini and handed him the cup.

Three-time winner of the Balon d’Or, Platini was the tournament's top scorer and named the best player after France’s win at the 1984 Euros. As a three-time Serie A player of the season, he managed to supplement this with a European Cup win with Juventus in 1985.

"He was a deep-lying playmaker that could score his share of goals and was a serious distributor of the ball."


Brazil's Roberto Rivelino (r) runs at the Italy defence

The skilful Rivelino was a 1970 World Cup-winner with Brazil. Diego Maradona’s favourite player, some of his skill moves later copied by Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"He was a goalscorer - he was brilliant on his left foot. Deadly.

"In the match I played him, he got it on his left foot and hit an absolute screamer giving the 'keeper no chance."

Diego Maradona

Argentina's Diego Maradona celebrates scoring the equalizing goal

You might have heard of this lad.

Maradona captained Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, where he was also named player of the tournament. He was voted the best player of the 20th century alongside Pele - a gong he was not all that happy to share.

He was twice the most expensive player in world history (£5m to Barcelona and £7m to Napoli), as well as a UEFA Cup winner with Napoli in 1989 and two-time Serie A winner.

"He came on at half-time in Dublin, got the ball on his left and hit the crossbar.

"You could tell that this fella was a genius. A genius.

"He is up there with the best-ever. One thing he had playing, was that he could really beat players.

"Messi and Ronaldo are great players but there is nothing like beating a player.

"He had something that the other players don't have, which is going past players. Messi is the closest to that."

Johan Cruyff

German goalkeeper Sepp Maier gathers the ball from Johann Cruyff of Holland (centre) as Franz Beckenbauer of Germany (left) looks on.

Cruyff was a three-time Ballon D’Or winner, the player of the tournament at the 1974 World Cup where the Netherlands lost to West Germany. European player of the 20th century. Cruyff also managed three European Cups with Ajax. He revolutionised Barcelona, who had fewer trophies than Atletico Madrid when he joined the club.

Ferenc Puskas

Hungary's Ferenc Puskas scores the 1:0 against Germany in the 1954 FIFA World Cup final at Bern's Wankdorf Stadium in Switzerland on July 4th.

An absolutely astonishing international record of 84 goals in 85 games for Hungary, Puskas won an Olympic medal with Hungary and was on their team which reached the 1954 World Cup final.

Six La Liga titles and three European Cups with Real Madrid - the man scored 514 goals in 530 games across his club career.

"I played him in the European Cup semi-final with Manchester United.

"After Munich, we had a friendly match with Real Madrid every year.

"One of the most enjoyable things was playing players that you'd seen play - Puskas played against England in 1953.

"To be on the pitch with them [Puskas and Di Stefano] with my idols was incredible.

"Puskas scored about 1000 goals in 1000 matches - had a left foot like I've never seen."

Alfredo Di Stefano

Spain's Alfredo Di Stefano, 37, the Argentinian-born centre-forward recently in England for the Rest of the World match at Wembley. Known as the 'White Arrow', he is a naturalised Spaniard.

Di Stefano scored 308 goals in 396 games for Real Madrid, along with 23 in 31 games for Spain and 5 in 6 for Argentina. Five-time European Cup winner with Real Madrid and 8 time La Liga winner.

"Di Stefano did a lot of running around," said Giles of Puskas' more dynamic partner.

"He scored in every final he ever played in. He was brilliant.

"To be playing against these guys was incredible. I used to dream about it as a kid."

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Beckenbauer Cruyff Giles John Giles Maradona Pasarella Puskas Rivelino Zoff