That said, we have put together an attack-minded team featuring two strikers, an inside forward and a winger playing in a formation somewhat akin to 4-2-4. Our selection features two World Cup winners: Ray Wilson from England ’66 and René Houseman from Argentina ’78. Among the players who narrowly missed out on our selection are Tommy Lawrence, Davide Astori, Antonio Barros, Luigi Radice, Viktor Matviyenko, Karoly Palotai, Ruben Galvan, Cyrille Regis, Ted Phillips, Roy Bentley, Josip Pirmajer,
We end our BTLM year in the usual manner with our sixth annual Deceased Eleven, a fictional team assembled from the ranks of the many fine footballers who have sadly passed away over the past 12 months. As ever our team is structured with balance in mind and is not simply a collection of the biggest name forwards, despite this being a year in which many famous strikers were lost.
Alan Gilzean and Jimmy McIlroy
You can review our past Deceased Elevens from 2013 onwards here.
Goalkeeper – Ion Voinescu (Romania). Born 1929. 22 caps
A lesser-known name to an international audience perhaps, but considered probably the best goalkeeper ever produced in his home country. A peripatetic youth career led to him joining the newly created Steaua Bucharest club as a 21-year old and he starred there throughout the 1950s and early 1960s earning six championship medals. His remarkable agility and talent brought him to the attention of western clubs but the communist regime would never have permitted him to move.
Right Back – Jimmy Armfield. England. Born 1935. 43 caps.
Spending his entire club career with Blackpool, Armfield was at the vanguard of the evolution of the modern full back into a player capable of both defending and initiating attacks. Elegant, intelligent and a model professional, Armfield was considered one of the best right backs in the world during the early 1960s until injury set him back and cost him his international place to George Cohen in England’s 1966 World Cup squad.
Left Back – Ray Wilson ((England). Born 1934. 63 caps.
Had Armfield played in 1966 his full back partner would have been Everton’s Ray Wilson who was the team’s understated yet influential left back. Wilson was another modern full back who had the energy and technique to add real attacking width to a team. 1966 was undoubtedly his finest year winning both the FA Cup with Everton and of course the World Cup with England, the only honours he won over the course of his career.
Central Defence – Rubén Díaz (Argentina). Born 1946.
Eccentric, erratic and often prone to violence, Rubén Díaz was very much an Argentinian defender of his time and one whose defensive worth could often be overlooked. He was a key lynchpin in the Racing Club side that won both the Copa de Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup in 1967. Later he would move to Europe with Atletico Madrid and win another Intercontinental Cup, all the while exhibiting the same levels of gamesmanship and pragmatism with which he had made his name.
Central Defence – Paul Madeley (England). Born 1944. 24 caps.
This highly adaptable player could have been named in virtually any outfield position in this team and we narrowly decided his talents would be used best at the heart of the defence. A one-club man who spent his entire career with Leeds United during their glory years, Madeley started out as a forward but by his late 20s moved into the centre half role and starred there as Leeds United went all the way to the European Cup Final in 1975.
Central Midfield – Ray Wilkins (England). Born 1956. 84 caps, 3 goals.
An intelligent and mature deep-lying midfield playmaker, Wilkins was named captain of his first club Chelsea at the age of just 18 and went on to enjoy a long and successful career in England, Italy, France and Scotland. Wilkins was a cerebral footballer whose subtle talents were not always appreciated in the hurly burly of the British game of the 1970s and 80s.
Central Midfield – Henri Michel (France). Born 1947. 58 caps, 4 goals.
An intelligent and dynamic midfield playmaker, Michel spent the great majority of his career with Nantes and was a three-time French champion with the Brittany club during the 1970s. His elegance on the ball and his astute passing made him an international regular too and he was part of his nation’s squad for the 1978 World Cup.
Right Winger – René Houseman (Argentina). Born 1953. 55 caps, 13 goals.
An explosively fast and skilful winger, Houseman was the creative hub of the successful Huracán team that won a domestic title in 1973. His club form translated well to the national team and the winger played and starred for his nation at both the 1974 and 1978 World Cup tournaments.
Centre Forward – Quini (Spain). Born 1949. 35 caps, 8 goals.
One of the deadliest centre forwards Spain has produced, Quini scored prolifically season after season for Sporting Gijon and later Barcelona with unerring consistency. Not especially tall, strong or fast, Quini was however very adept with the ball at his feet and boasted a sixth sense when it came to positioning. Five times between 1974 and 1982 he was awarded the Pichichi Trophy for finishing as La Liga’s top scorer.
Centre Forward – Antonio Angelillo (Argentina). Born 1937. 13 caps (for Argentina & Italy), 12 goals.
One of the celebrated Argentinian ‘trio of death’, three forwards of exceptional skill and finishing ability who moved to Italy in the late 1950s, Angelillo became a legend at Internazionale with his speed, strength and eye for goal. During the 1958-59 Serie A season the forward scored 33 goals in 33 games and two seasons later managed 38 in all competitions. Moved on to Roma where he also thrived.
Inside Forward – Roger Piantoni (France) Born 1931. 37 caps, 18 goals.
A highly creative inside forward and prolific scorer of goals in his own right, Piantoni starred for Stade de Reims in their late 50s heyday as part of a wonderful forward line also featuring Jean Vincent and Just Fontaine. The player also starred in France’s fine 1958 World Cup campaign, the most successful in the nation’s history until they won the competition in 1998.