Jack Gallagher’s Draft XI: Who Knew Picking Xavi Would Be Such a Bad Idea?

Last week we at 90min conducted our very own ‘Greatest Players of All Time’ draft. For Scott Saunders, Ben Haines, Jude Summerfield, Hunter Godson, Chris Deeley and Toby Cudworth, this proved to be quite a successful venture. 

They all had plans, and they all executed them pretty well. 

Scott got his Twitter team, Ben built from the back, Deeley got Maradona (plain sailing thereafter), Jude got his Brazilians, Toby got his Dutch, and Hunter got his favourite footballer in the world Cristiano Ronaldo.

I, on the other hand…well I didn’t do so well. 

Here’s the ‘team’ I ‘built’.

Goalkeeper and Defenders

Dino Zoff

Dino Zoff (GK): And it starts off pretty well actually, with one of the best goalkeepers of all time. Chosen in the 11th round – as all goalkeepers should have been – Zoff fits the bill as a ‘winner who won a lot of things and was also really good’, so on the plane he goes. 

Dani Alves (RB): This pick was a toss up: Dani Alves or Carlos Alberto. 

Overall, Carlos Alberto was the better player. He scored quite possibly the greatest goal of all time and was the leader of quite possibly the best football team of all time. 

But in the end I went with Dani Alves for one very simple reason: the goons on Twitter voting for who they think built the best team don’t have a clue who Carlos Alberto is.

Alessandro Nesta (CB): Another toss up, this time between Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro. 

This one wasn’t decided based on what would Twitter would think however, it was decided based on what I think. And in my opinion, Nesta was slightly better than Cannavaro at his peak, so the AC Milan and Lazio legend got the nod. 


Franz Beckenbauer (CB): My first pick, and the third pick overall, and bah gawd what a pick it was. Franz Beckenbauer is the ultimate ‘captain, leader, legend’, and was the perfect man to build a GOAT XI around. 

Paul Breitner (LB): This back four is pretty great, isn’t it? Dani Alves, Alessandro Nesta, Franz Beckenbauer and the second best left-back of all time: Paul Breitner.

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s all downhill from here. 



Arjen Robben (RM): Picture this: Dani Alves bombing down the right and Arjen Robben cutting in on that divine left foot of his. 

It would be magic. It really would. 

Michel Platini (CM): Ok, not the most popular of picks considering that, well, he’s a bit of crook, but football-wise this was a good pickup. 

He won three Ballons d’Or in a row, was the best goalscoring midfielder of all time (it’s not even close), and he also won basically every trophy that has ever been made. See – good pick. 

Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez (CM): Bad pick.

Really bad pick.

The worst pick of the draft by quite a distance. 

And that’s not because Xavi was a bad player – far from it, he was amazing. It’s because this pick basically broke this team from a tactical perspective. 

To get away with using Platini in midfield, I needed a ball-winner to sit beside and do all the dirty work while the three-time Ballon d’Or winner would go up and score 30 goals a game. 

Instead I picked Xavi. Who can’t really tackle…at all…disaster. 

Hristo Stoichkov (LM): I’d lost my head by this point in the draft, and still reeling from the Xavi pick I ended up selecting Stoichkov while players like Roberto Baggio, Thierry Henry and Ronald Koeman were on the board. Disaster. 


UEFA European Championship 1988 - VI Archive

Marco van Basten (ST): Miraculously, Marco van Basten was available for selection in the 10th round of the draft, so I nabbed him. 

And while picking literally anything other than a forward would’ve been a good idea, and picking literally anything other than a forward might’ve sorted out my midfield conundrum, it’s Van Basten. I had to pick him. He was too good to turn down. 

Gerd Muller (ST): We end the team on a high, with the best number nine of all time: Gerd Muller. And I can take some solace in the fact that, while my midfield would be overrun by every other draft team, Muller will probably find a way to score a hat-trick regardless. 


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