We’re looking at the middle of our defence this week and next on the Football Pubcast, with one centre back role set to be filled by a legend, and the other to be occupied by a current player.
On this week’s show we nominated five centre back legends for inclusion in our side, but only one can make it into our XI.
Here are the five players, as nominated by the Pubcasters themselves. Please vote for your favourite using the poll below. It’s without doubt the toughest vote yet, with five bona-fide legends vying for a place in our All-Star XI.
We’ll announce the results in next week’s show.
Franco Baresi – Nominated by Stu
Once rejected by arch-rivals Inter Milan, Franco Baresi decided to attend trials for AC Milan instead. The rest, as they say, is history.
A true one-club man, Baresi played 719 games for the Rossoneri, winning six League titles and three European Cups to name just a few of his achievements.
He led the Milan team for the best part of a decade as the lynchpin of arguably the greatest back four in the history of football, alongside Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta and Mauro Tassotti.
That’s all that needs saying in a week where every single nomination would make the back four of any team, but I’ll close my nomination with this quote from the great Brazilian striker Romario: “His performance today was the most ruthless monitoring that I have ever come up against in my career.”
Franz Beckenbauer – Nominated by Simon
They called him “Der Kaiser” and he strode about the field just like an emperor. Franz Beckenbauer was some player. The first man to lift the FIFA World Cup, and the first captain to hold both the Henri Delounay trophy and the World Cup at the same time, the West German skipper led from the front, despite playing at the back.
He brought the sweeper position into the modern game, he won almost every trophy and accolade a European professional footballer could win, and he did so with an air of genuine class.
Considered one of the best defenders ever to lace up a pair of boots, he was such a huge figure, he was one of the first players to have his name adorned on commercially-produced football boots. The yellow-striped “Adidas Beckenbauer” was the must-have boot of the late 70s and early 80s.
He won the lot as a player, he led his nation to achievements never reached previously and he went on to become a hugely successful manager too, becoming the first man to win the World Cup as a player and as a manager. “Der Kaiser” is a footballing legend, and as such deserves a place in our side.
John Charles – Nominated by Mike
John Charles, or “Il Gigante Buono” as he was and still is known to his adoring fans in Italy, is football’s most under-appreciated player. And that’s quite something coming from a devout Manchester United supporter when said in relation to a Leeds United legend.
But Charles deserves every plaudit he gets and about a million more. The fact that one fellow Pubcaster was planning to nominate him as a striker in the XI shows how brilliant he was in not one, but two positions. And think how different the course of Football history may have been had a 17-year-old Pele come up against Charles in the 1958 Quarter Final.
He’s in the Italian and English Football Halls of Fame, he was voted the greatest Welsh player of all time by UEFA ahead of Giggs, Hughes, Rush, Toshack and Clayton Blackmore. But perhaps he’s best summed up by both Juventus and Serie A voting him their greatest ever foreign import a whole 34 years after he stopped playing, a fact made all the more impressive by the fact that those 34 years had seen Zidane, Platini, Boniek, Maradona, Gullit, Van Basten and even Luther Blissett grace the top level of Italian football.
So if any of those players make it into this team (and my money is on Blissett and Blackmore), then surely “Gentleman” John Charles has to be a shoo-in.
Paul McGrath – Nominated by Jim
Paul McGrath, or God if you’re a Villa fan, was a central defender who defied medical science whilst performing at the top level of English football for 15 years. The man left such an impression that his name is still sung to the tune of “Kumbaya” by the Villains who took him to their hearts.
Heroic defending has long been associated as an admirable if sometimes inept trait within our game, yet McGrath combined this with the rare facet of sheer class. Often regarded as one of the purest defenders in the game, he tested himself at the top level with the Republic Of Ireland, and was instrumental in their famous victory over Italy at USA ’94.
Whilst at Manchester United, injuries and his well documented alcohol addiction led to a turbulent relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, who eventually sold him to Villa. Despite this, a few years ago McGrath received an invite to attend his former manager’s testimonial dinner in London. Fergie, not known as a bad judge of player or character over time, sat God on the table next to him…
Bobby Moore – Nominated by Dan
All of the players on this list are legends, but in this country, they all fall short of one man. Bobby Moore is the standard by which all other centre backs are judged. Quite simply, he’s the greatest of all time.
Moore came through the ranks at West Ham United, replacing Malcolm Allison in the heart of the Hammers’ defence, and soon achieved international honours, becoming England’s youngest ever captain, aged just 22.
In 1966 he led England to their only World Cup win, in 1970 he produced a masterclass in defending against the greatest attacking team of all time, Brazil. By the end of that tournament it was clear, Moore was the greatest defender on the planet.
He was a gentleman, a leader and an English footballing legend. He’s won the UEFA Cup-Winners’ Cup, the FA Cup and, of course, the World Cup. He’s a member of the English Football Hall of Fame and is dearly missed by his extended family at Upton Park, as well as by millions of fans across the nation.
Bobby Moore represented everything that was great about English football, during the game’s golden era in this country. A vote for him would bring a little bit of that magic to our Pubcast XI.
Franco Baresi 31.71%
Bobby Moore 29.27%
Paul McGrath 17.07%
John Charles 12.20%
Franz Beckenbauer 9.76%