Back in 2006, Robbie Williams came up with the idea of Soccer Aid, and on Sunday, we’ll see the 11th edition of the UNICEF charity match.
In the 16 years since the match’s inception, we’ve seen some memorable moments, from Serge Pizzorno chipping David Seaman to Lee Mack missing countless penalties.
However, as fun as it is to watch the celebrities, the real attraction for football fans is the long-retired legends who step back onto the field to show that they’ve still got it.
Over the years we’ve seen Ballon d’Or winners, World Cup winners and some of the game’s most famous players appear in Soccer Aid, and with that in mind, we’re going to have a go at crafting the best XI of players to have played in this event.
GK – Edwin van der Sar
Peter Schmeichel, David Seaman and Jens Lehmann were all contenders for this number one spot, but, in our view, it’s hard to look past Edwin van der Sar.
A multiple time Champions League winner, a legend for both Ajax and Manchester United, the Dutchman is one of the most decorated goalkeepers of all-time.
RB – Cafu
A three-time World Cup winner, there arguably isn’t a right-back in history who would get into this team ahead of Cafu.
The Brazilian was a star for Brazil throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and to this day, he remains the only player to appear in four World Cup finals.
Gary Neville was the other contender for this spot, but we’re sure even he would agree that Cafu is more deserving.
The full-back may have only played 46 minutes in 2016’s Soccer Aid, but he’s certainly one of football’s biggest legends.
CB – Lothar Matthaus
The first Ballon d’Or winner in our team, Lothar Matthaus was more notably a midfielder, but towards the end of his career he stepped back into the defense to reinvent the sweeper role.
The German was a star for Bayern Munich, Germany and Inter Milan during his playing days, and he appeared at the inaugural Soccer Aid.
CB – Fabio Cannavaro
Another Ballon d’Or winning centre-half, Cannavaro had a lot of competition for this second centre-back spot.
Indeed, Franco Baresi, Jaap Stam and John Terry all have cases to make a partner Matthaus at the back, but for our money, Canavarro is up there with the greatest of all-time.
Arguably the greatest left-back of all-time, Ashley Cole also faced stiff competition to make it into this side.
Roberto Carlos was the other contender, and while the Brazilian was absolutely brilliant during his heyday, Cole just about edges this one and he’s England’s first representative on this side.
CM – Zinedine Zidane
What can be said about Zinedine Zidane that hasn’t already been said?
One of the most majestic midfielders of all-time. Zidane combined strength, size, skill and guile in a way no player has before or since.
Zidane played in the 2010 edition of Soccer Aid, but he famously failed to make his mark as he couldn’t quite strike up a partnership with Austin Powers actor Mike Myers.
CM – Ruud Gullit
The only player-manager in this team, Ruud Gullit came on in 2006’s Soccer Aid as an emergency substitute after a few injuries.
The Dutchman is yet another one of football’s greats. The AC Milan legend is one of the most complete footballers of all-time, and there are not many, even in this team, that can match his CV.
CM – Luis Figo
Yet another Ballon d’Or winner. Luis Figo appeared in both 2008 and 2010 in Soccer Aid.
Figo probably provided the best performance Soccer Aid has ever seen back in 2008. However, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. After all, he was still a regular for Inter Milan around that time, and on the day he had a ball making a mockery of Craig David time and time again in the midfield.
The Portuguese legend certainly deserves a spot in this team.
RW – Diego Maradona
Probably the greatest, and most famous, footballer to ever appear in one of these games, the late, great Diego Maradona is a player who truly transcended football.
Of course, back in 2006 he was somewhat past his prime, but even in his only Soccer Aid appearance you could still see glimpses of quality. In fact, he even got on the scoresheet with a penalty that was rolled past Top of the Pops presenter Jamie Theakston.
ST – Alan Shearer
The second English player in this team, Alan Shearer just about squeaks in ahead of some absolute legends of the game.
We could have chosen from one of Andriy Shevchenko, Hernan Crespo, Alessandro Del Piero, Dimitar Berbatov or Michael Owen, but the Premier League’s all-time leading goalscorer gets the nod here.
With two Soccer Aid goals to his name, Shearer has scored more often in this game than any other player in this side.
LW – Ronaldinho
Who else could it be?
Ronaldinho was the best player in the world when Soccer Aid was invented back in 2006, and he embodies everything this event should be about.
Always looking to please the crowd and playing with a smile on his face, Ronaldinho is undoubtedly one of the most gifted footballers to ever step foot onto any pitch, nevermind at Soccer Aid.
In other news, Three offers on table for £18m English star compared to Hazard, Tottenham and West Ham want him