Our final post in each BTLM calendar year is a look back at the greats of the game who have sadly passed away over the past 12 months. Our preferred method of celebrating their fine careers is to create a fantasy Eleven selection, a line-up we reckon would be quite the footballing force if you imagine all its players as they were in their peak years.
It’s always an interesting exercise that throws up many selection and tactical quandaries. For example this year saw the passing of quite a number of brilliant defensive midfielders and this has seen us adopt a 3-4-3 formation to try to incorporate their talents as best we could. Similarly the choice for the number one jersey proved quite a dilemma. We went in the end with Ron Springett but our team wouldn’t have been notably weakened had we chosen Dominique Dropsy or Antonio Betancourt instead.
You can view our 2013 and 2014 Deceased Elevens here.
Read more about the career who have made our selection.
1) Ron SPRINGETT Goalkeeper (33 caps 1959-66)
England’s undisputed number one from the late 50s through to the mid 60s, Springett was a talented and agile keeper who starred for Sheffield Wednesday and QPR (twice). Played for his country at the 1962 World Cup and was a non-playing substitute when England won the World Cup four years later.
2) Ion NUNWEILLER Defender (40 caps 1958-67)
One of six brothers who all went on to play football at a high level, Ion was an intelligent and astute defender and was one of the key players behind Dinamo Bucharest’s dominance of the Romanian game in the first half of the 1960s.
3) Gerry BYRNE Defender (2 caps 1963-66)
A powerful and aggressive left sided defender, Byrne was one of Bill Shankly’s most trusted lieutenants during Liverpool’s 1960s rise from Division Two obscurity to Division One title success.
4) Dave MACKAY Midfielder (22 caps / 4 goals 1957-65)
A tenacious and inspirational midfield legend for both Hearts and Tottenham, Mackay was the heart, the brains and the lungs of two successful championship winning teams on either side of the border.
5) ZITO Midfielder (52 caps / 3 goals 1955-64)
An astute all-round midfielder who spent much of his decade and a half long career alongside Pelé at Santos where he enjoyed much trophy success. Played in Brazil’s 1958 and 1962 World Cup winning teams as a perfect midfield foil for Didi.
6) Josef MASOPUST Defender / midfielder (63 caps / 10 goals 1954-66)
Perhaps the greatest player produced by Czechslovakia, Masopust was one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world during the 1950s and 60s for Dukla Prague and his national team. He was the inspiration behind Czechoslovakia’s run to the 1962 World Cup Final, the same year he was named European Footballer of the Year. We have selected him as a sweeper in our team to take advantage of his outstanding reading of the game.
7) Alcides GHIGGIA Winger (17 caps / 4 goals for Uruguay & Italy 1950-59)
Known almost exclusively for scoring the Uruguayan goal against Brazil that won the 1950 World Cup, Ghiggia was a quick, direct and very skilful winger who starred for Penarol and then Roma in Serie A.
8) Ignacio ZOCO Midfielder (25 caps / 1 goal 1961-69)
This defensive midfielder became the first player from outside the Spanish top flight to be capped for his country in 1961. The Osasuna prodigy soon moved to Real Madrid where he enjoyed a highly successful 12 year career winning a European Cup and seven domestic titles. Zoco was an important member of Spain’s 1964 European Nations Cup winning team.
9) Rik COPPENS Forward (47 caps / 21 goals 1949-59)
The first star of post-war Belgian football, Henri ‘Rik’ Coppens was a clever and elusive striker who scored 261 goals for Beerschot over his 15 year career with the Antwerp based club. By the time the 1954 Belgian Golden Shoe winner retired in 1970 after nearly a quarter of a century in the game, he had not a single club honour to his name.
10) Dick NANNINGA Attacking midfielder (15 caps / 6 goals 1978-81)
Nanninga was a rare example of a Dutch international who never played for any of the big three of Ajax, PSV or Feyenoord. The attacking midfielder made his name with Roda JC and played with distinction at the 1978 World Cup, scoring the equalising goal in the Final against Argentina.
11) Ralph MILNE Winger / midfielder
The only uncapped player in this Eleven. Milne was a mercurial midfielder or winger who was instrumental in the rise of Dundee United to prominence in the early 1980s. With the Tannadice club Milne won a Scottish title and a League Cup and remains the club’s record scorer in European football.
Subs from: Dominique Dropsy, Antonio Betancourt, Alan Hodgkinson, Steve Mokone, Andy King, Jean Luc Sassus, Colin Jackson, Wolfram Wuttke, Joe Wark, Carlinhos, Graham Leggatt and Howard Kendall.