LONDON. — France Football have sparked debate across social media by revealing their all-time best Ballon d’Or “Dream Team”.
Lionel Messi, Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo have found place in the greatest team of all time announced by France Football — Ballon D’or Dream Team.
Having cancelled its annual Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best footballer because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the weekly magazine instead has announced its best XI in history, as voted by journalists from 140 countries and regions.
The esteemed line-up includes Brazil’s three-time World Cup winner Pele and legendary Argentinian Diego Maradona, who died last month of a heart-attack.
The team also includes goalkeeper Lev Yashin; defenders Cafu, Franz Beckenbauer and Paolo Maldini; and mid-fielders Xavi and Lothar Matthaus.
The architects of football’s most prestigious annual individual honour collated the votes of 140 journalists from across the globe to elect a greatest XI featuring some of the most celebrated talents in the history of the sport.
The identities of those that made the team were revealed in a series of staggered announcements on Monday, with France Football seeking to replicate the sort of excitement usually associated with the main Ballon d’Or prize, which sadly will not be given in 2020 due to the “lack of a sufficiently level playing field” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The “Dream Team” were selected in a 3-4-3 formation, with Russian great Lev Yashin – who remains the only goalkeeper ever to have won the Ballon d’Or award – picked between the posts. German legend Beckenbauer anchors a three-man defence also containing former Italy and AC Milan stalwart Maldini and Brazil’s most-capped player Cafu.
The late Maradona and great rival Pele are pushed out to the flanks, with Spain and Barcelona icon Xavi partnering another German World Cup hero in Lothar Matthaus in the middle of the park.
The front three is truly formidable and one that no defender would ever wish to face, with the mighty pair of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi — who have 11 Ballon d’Ors between them — joined by “O Fenomeno” Ronaldo Nazario.
“For me it is an honour to have been included in the eleven of the Ballon d’Or Dream Team. I want to thank you for choosing me and also congratulate all the players who were selected . . . and all the nominees, there are real phenomena on that list,” Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or a record six times, said in an Instagram post.
Brazil’s Ronaldo Nazario, a two-time World Cup winner and dual Ballon d’Or recipient, also expressed pride at being named in the No. 9 position.
“It’s such an honour to be elected the best centre forward of all time in the Dream Team by France Football,” Ronaldo said on Instagram.
“I gave my life for football and followed my dreams. No matter the obstacle I faced and the pain I had to overcome I was always focused to get where I wanted,” he added.
Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the Ballon d’Or five times, said: “I’m very honoured to be part of France Football’s all-time 11. What an amazing Dream Team. They all deserve my respect and admiration and I’m obviously proud to be amongst such extraordinary players. Thank you!”
France Football also revealed second and third-team squads, with the back-up XI comprised of Gianluigi Buffon, Carlos Alberto, Franco Baresi, Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, Alfredo Di Stefano, Frank Rijkaard, Andrea Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Johan Cruyff and Garrincha.
Making the cut for the third team are Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Sergio Ramos, Paul Breitner, Didi, Johan Neeskens, Andres Iniesta, Michel Platini, Thierry Henry, Marco van Basten and George Best. — The Evening Standard